Tourism Business Chat with Hanks Deli.
In this latest conversation, Chris chats to Geoff Bligh, a co-owner of Hanks Deli, Suffolk’s popular vegan supermarket. Where many hospitality businesses faced struggles and closures during lockdown, Hanks Deli pivoted and expanded, meeting a demand that shocked even them!
The success of Hanks, and their expansion into a supermarket, take-away and pub means, for them, veganism is good for business! It’s a new reality for how we produce and consume food, and could be the key to the future of hospitality.
Geoff worked in the City for many years, before following his passion. His frustration at the lack of dining choices for vegans, resulted in opening the first shop and café in 2019. The ‘soft’ opening was anything but, and he chats to Chris about how they coped with demand, and with having to expand quickly, within their first year of opening. They opened Suffolk’s first fully vegan pub a mere eight weeks before the first coronavirus lockdown. Despite being forced to close, they remained positive and looked at other opportunities to meet the demand in the changing customer landscape, which doesn’t include just vegans.
Two take-away outlets ; which includes being part of Felixstowe’s recent Beach Street sea front renovation project; and a shop expansion soon followed, and their switch to shop deliveries during lockdown, which has been a key to their success during the past year.
Geoff talks openly about the worries lockdown initially brought around safeguarding jobs; the changes in customer behavior; and how re-opening the pub with restrictions was not initially a money maker, but important for brand awareness. He touches on how Brexit will impact their imports, many of which are still specialist, but how he has seen a change in the availability of products within the UK, as veganism continues to rise in popularity. As he says, if MacDonald’s are on board, it’s no longer a ‘fad’.
This drive, and approach to his business model makes for a must-listen episode.