Stafford Collection Gourmet at Home Boxes
During the first lockdown, Stuart Procter and his team discussed the concept of Gourmet at Home Boxes with the aim of delivering the same quality offered in the Stafford Collection restaurants, from the menus and packaging, to the food quality and experience. psd’s Lesley Reynolds talks to Stuart, Chief Operating Officer, Stafford Collection, about the Gourmet at Home Boxes from Northcote, Norma and The Stafford.
The situation and the opportunity
The concept of the Gourmet at Home Boxes was a collective effort, something that was discussed by myself and the team during the first lockdown, but rather than rushing to pull something together simply as a revenue generator, we wanted to ensure we were delivering the same quality and high standards we offer in our restaurants, from the menus and packaging, to the food quality and experience. Northcote were really the trailblazer here with their amazing Gourmet Boxes from Lisa Goodwin-Allen, shortly followed by Feasting Boxes from Norma and Classic Dining Boxes from The Stafford London and The Game Bird.
The profile of our team is of huge importance to the success of our boxes. We are one big team and couldn’t operate without the people behind the scenes preparing the food and packing the boxes, however the exposure of key team members such as Ben Tish and Lisa Goodwin Allen cannot be understated. Their profile within the industry hasn’t just appeared overnight, it’s been a long game over the past few years, working with our PR Agency, Sauce Communications and their talent agent, Martine Carter to liaise with the press and secure key TV opportunities. They are the spokespeople of Norma, The Stafford and Northcote and do a brilliant job with that.
We are one big team and couldn’t operate without the people behind the scenes preparing the food and packing the boxes, however the exposure of key team members such as Ben Tish and Lisa Goodwin Allen cannot be understated.
Key moments that really boosted the sales of our at home boxes included Lisa Allen appearing and winning three courses on Great British Menu and a stunning review from Jay Rayner. Both saw web traffic and box sales sky rocket. We’ve also been working with Sauce on day-to-day press and influencer sampling in order to secure review and roundup coverage which has of course assisted in overall exposure of the boxes. We have an exciting appearance coming up on BBC’s MasterChef in the coming weeks at The Game Bird so we’re hoping that will again provide a boost to sales of the Game Bird boxes.
New roles and the team
It has been amazing to see how the teams at Northcote, Norma and The Stafford have adapted to selling the Gourmet Boxes. With the majority of our team on furlough, it has been a case of everyone taking on new roles and responsibilities and really embracing this ‘new normal’. From our Finance Director and Director of Engineering becoming chief box builders, to our Marketing Director taking control of shipping and delivery companies, Northcote’s Managing Director wrapping hundreds of loaves of bread each week and myself and my daughter Florence loading the boxes on the delivery vans each Thursday, everyone really has shifted and embraced their new roles. Thursday is packing day and the atmosphere in The Stafford is fantastic; the team are in, the music is playing, people are singling along and it’s amazing to watch everyone come together, having fun and really working to make the boxes a success.
With the majority of our team on furlough, it has been a case of everyone taking on new roles and responsibilities and really embracing this ‘new normal’.
One of the most memorable moments since the launch of the boxes came at Christmas, when we had almost 1,000 Christmas Day Dinner boxes being delivered. The day prior to delivery, our courier got in touch to say that they were unable to guarantee delivery of the boxes, throwing Christmas for these guests into chaos! Craig Bancroft, Managing Director at Northcote, jumped into action and spoke with one of our longest suppliers Wellocks, who came to our rescue by agreeing to deliver the boxes across the country. It was touch and go, but with the help of our fantastic supplier, everyone managed to enjoy their Christmas Feast.
The obvious measure of success is financially. On some weeks, Norma has taken more money through the sale of their feasting boxes, than they have ever taken. Northcote had a record profit year in 2020, despite being closed for over half of the year, which can be attributed to the huge success of their Gourmet Boxes.
Those who have always wanted to dine at Northcote, Norma or The Game Bird, but have not been able to make it to us just yet, can now experience the food of Lisa Goodwin-Allen or Ben Tish in their own home.
Revenue aside, we’ve also seen so many new customers introduced to the Stafford Collection properties since launching the dining boxes. Those who have always wanted to dine at Northcote, Norma or The Game Bird, but have not been able to make it to us just yet, can now experience the food of Lisa Goodwin-Allen or Ben Tish, in their own home. We’re also reaching many customers who had never heard of the properties before, but are now determined to visit once we are able to reopen.
Finally, we’ve seen internal success in how quickly we’ve been able to adapt. We’re more nimble and flexible in our offerings than ever before and this can only help us to grow stronger as a business, as we reopen our doors and look to the future.
Are Gourmet Boxes here to stay?
Yes! I think there is a place for At Home experiences and certainly people are more open to Restaurant experiences from top restaurants in the comfort of their own homes and we certainly hope to continue these.
Chief Operating Officer, Stafford Collection
Stuart Procter is Chief Operating Officer of the Stafford Collection, overseeing The Stafford London, Northcote and Norma. Stuart is one of Britain’s leading hoteliers, with over 20 years’ experience and holds a wealth of experience of the international hospitality market and an abiding love of service and hospitality that began at a young age.
The Stafford Collection is an independently owned, luxury portfolio of beautiful properties in distinct locations in the UK. These elegant hotels and award-winning restaurants offer discreet luxury and the highest standards of service and hospitality. Set in the heart of historic St James’s, minutes from London’s iconic landmarks, The Stafford London is one of the finest hotels in the Capital. For those looking for an elegant country retreat, Northcote is a small luxury hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant, situated on the edge of the stunning Ribble Valley, Lancashire. Located in London’s Fitzrovia, Norma is a contemporary and vibrant restaurant, inspired by the food and culture of Sicily with particular emphasis on the Moorish influences of the island’s cuisine.