Meet Shereen Ritchie, LEON’s operations director with a difference. In her lunch! Keynote she’ll be discussing how to lead by example and create results that can exceed expectations. We caught up with her to find out more…

What do you feel is the key for operators to successfully compete against their competitors?

The most important thing is to focus on your own operations and not get distracted by the competition. Ironically, that’s the most effective way to compete against them. Stay obsessive about your own offer, service and delivery, rather than getting too wrapped up on how everyone else is doing it.

What do you see as key trends for food-to-go in the coming year? 

As an industry we are going to be forced to become more sustainable, and honestly, we’re glad of the mounting public pressure because it’s a catalyst to necessary change. We’ve already introduced paper straws and biodegradable cutlery as well as a reusable coffee cup discount, in addition to the compostable packaging we already use, but we know we’ve got a long way to go.

We’re also seeing a growth in demand for plant-based products, even though meat-based dishes still dominate most of our product categories. I do think this is linked to the drive on Sustainability as what it highlights is an overall change in our attitude towards the planet. We know we need to make changes and we’re all getting there, slowly but surely.

Then, we know from our own sales analysis that Delivery is a trend that will continue to grow, especially in non-traditional dayparts for channels such as breakfast and lunch.

What’s your bestselling product at the moment?

GFC, our Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets. After four years in the making we launched them across all of our restaurants in August, and honestly, we can’t make enough to keep up with demand.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Seeing people grow. We recruit our people based on attitude. We want committed people that truly believe: people who care, who are ‘fun trumpets’ and live life with a sunny attitude. We want to feed their ‘fish’, the thing that makes them want to get out of bed and come to work in the morning. When we manage to do that, and see people rise through the ranks to achieve their goals, there’s nothing like it. So we make sure to celebrate with them. I couldn’t do it without my wonderful LEON wolf pack.

How important is lunch! to the food to go sector?

It’s hugely important. We have such busy day jobs that it’s essential for us all – suppliers, operators and support partners – to come together to hear about trends and innovations.

Describe the lunch! trade show in 3 words:

Fresh. Innovating. Disruptive.

Who or what inspires you to be even better?

We have over 1,000 people in the LEON Family, and I know I’m in a position of responsibility to take the best care of them. I need them and they need me, and that’s a constant source of inspiration to be better. I want to do them proud.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your gut instinct. Don’t overlook the facts and statistics needed to validate that thinking, but don’t underestimate it either.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know.

I use to be a backing dancer for the Spice Girls when I was at drama school #truestory

See Shereen at lunch! 2018

LEON: Leading by Example: 12.45pm in Keynote Theatre 1 on Friday 21 September.

To register for a free trade ticket, please click here.

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