Consumer appetite for the trusty hamburger shows no signs of deteriorating, in fact all the evidence suggests the explosion of trendy burger joints will continue throughout the UK this year and well into the next. Championing the evolution of this meaty marvel, and one of the strongest brands in the market, is Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and its chief executive Alasdair Murdoch.
Joining from Pizza Express, where he was CEO of its international business, Alasdair has been the driving force of the business over the past four years, turning it into one of the top 10 UK chain operators by store growth. At the moment, the company sits on 60 restaurants, but it has set itself the target of reaching almost 100 sites within the next three years. That in itself will require a significant outlay on new catering equipment — which means its top kitchen decision-makers will spring into action. “Every time we open a new restaurant, our head of food sits down with our operations manager and they figure out the best layout for our kitchens and work with the design team so we get something that looks great, but is also very practical and pragmatic from a work perspective,” explains Alasdair. “Flow and speed is very important for us — the equipment that we put in will all be around driving that quality for us and that is one of the main factors we think about when it comes to the kitchens.”
Sourcing new items requires careful consideration for GBK and investing in the right equipment to power the kitchens is a closely-managed process. These days the equipment has to look the part as well given that GBK has started to champion open-plan kitchens, which exposes it to a whole new level of scrutiny from customers. But irrespective of its rapid growth, Alasdair insists its buying criteria won’t be compromised: “We’re not driven by price, but by quality. Quality and reliability are key. Each piece of equipment needs to be durable.”
“We’re not driven by price, but by quality. Quality and reliability are key. Each piece of equipment needs to be durable”