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Ten Kites Blog page

Articles, analysis, and news from Ten Kites.

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Ten Kites is now part of Nutritics

Nutritics, a market leader in food and health software solutions, announces strategic acquisition of Ten Kites, the UK’s most innovative menu publishing platform, to drive international growth and scale.

Nutritics, a market leader in food and health software solutions, has today announced the strategic acquisition of Ten Kites, a menu publishing platform that empowers food businesses to publish fully compliant, personalised digital menus across multiple customer touch points, including web pages, mobile apps and digital displays.

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will enable Nutritics to include the innovative Ten Kites solution as part of its overall software offering, delivering increased value and business benefits to customers across 100 countries. It also enables Ten Kites to continue their international expansion with access to new market segments across Europe, Middle East and Australia. The combined entity currently employs 50 staff and this number is expected to continue to grow quickly to support further international expansion.

Ten Kites was founded in 2013 by Stuart Wilson to meet a growing need in the sector, the ability to publish accurate and up to date allergen information to menu pages. His vision was to bridge the divide between recipe systems with front-end web-pages, in a way that was scalable, reliable and automated.

Ten Kites now supports some of the UK’s biggest multi-brand groups across casual dining, pubs, bars and restaurant groups, including TGI Fridays, Fullers Pubs, Shepherd Neame, Carluccios and Wagamama, with thousands of sites reliant on their automated solutions. Prior to Ten Kites, Wilson founded StarLogic (and developed its market leading product StarChef) in 1995 which sold in 2010.

The multi-award winning Nutritics Food and Nutritics Health software solutions are used in over 100 countries by a wide range of food businesses and health, sport and education professionals. Nutritics Food provides menu management and food labelling solutions for multi-site food service operators, caterers and hospitality sector leaders.

Nutritics is currently the only company in the world to have been awarded the Gold Standard Recipe Calculation Accreditation by the European Food Information Resource (EUROFIR). Nutritics Food clients include LEON, Aramark and Starbucks. Nutritics Health is used by NHS, Public Health England and Manchester City FC, alongside over 90% of all third level universities in Britain.

Commenting on the acquisition, Stephen Nolan, Managing Director of Nutritics said; “Ten Kites represents the very best in UK food industry innovation. We are delighted to be able to complete this significant acquisition and start to bring their remarkable technology to our customers worldwide as we continue to scale internationally.

We believe that together we can empower food businesses all over the world with smart tools that deliver a personalised, instant and reliable digital experience to their consumers. Stuart and the team at Ten Kites have built a fantastic business and we look forward to supporting them to grow their offering in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.”

Stuart Wilson, CEO of Ten Kites noted; “We are extremely pleased to join forces with Nutritics. They, like us, have a culture of collaboration, innovation and service. Our strategic focus is to bring the Ten Kites solution to new international markets. This is the next step in our journey - one that opens up new opportunities for our brand, both at home and abroad. Ten Kites will continue to serve its customers and partners with the same level of collaboration and support, while also growing our reach in overseas markets, with support from Nutritics.”

Customers are seeking greater transparency about what they eat, both inside and outside the home. Nutritics and Ten Kites will continue to support the industry with this increasing demand. Currently, both organisations are supporting the foodservice sector to provide ingredient list information as part of the ‘Natasha’s Law’ food labelling regulation being introduced across the UK on 1st October 2021. Thereafter, Nutritics and Ten Kites will support the industry to display calorie information on menus in a modern and customer friendly format as part of the calorie labelling legislation being introduced in April 2022. Combined, Nutritics and Ten Kites are strongly positioned to bring the most accurate and user friendly solutions to the UK and international food and hospitality sector.

PR Contact:
Ruth Burnside (Head of PR, Inkvine Communications. Ruth@inkvine.ie)
Lena Engel (Marketing Manager, Nutritics. Lena@nutritics.com)

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The challenges of Natasha’s Law

By now, you will most likely know what Natasha’s Law is and the reason for its being. From 1 October any business in Wales, England or Northern Ireland that produces PPDS food, will need the label to display the name of the food and a full ingredients list with any of the 14 main allergen ingredients clearly highlighted.

The new law is intended to provide greater safety and confidence to the millions of people in the UK living with food allergies when purchasing prepacked food and follows the death of 15 year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died after eating a baguette containing sesame, to which she was allergic, but not listed on the packaging.

Whilst 1st October 2021 has been in the diary for 2 years as the date Natasha’s Law comes into effect, all in the hospitality industry would be forgiven for being unavoidably distracted by the global pandemic. It demanded the focus be solely on the task of ensuring businesses survive during the multiple lockdowns, the ever-changing tiered restrictions and more recently, the staffing and supply issues.

Nevertheless, with just over 3 months to go, any food item prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) must adhere to the new rules. And it seems this may present some traders with a number of challenges.

The first challenge is understanding whether Natasha’s Law applies to your business which means knowing the following for all your food offerings as each variable might have different labelling requirements:

  • The difference between prepacked (packed by one business and supplied to another business), prepacked for direct sale (food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected) and non-prepacked (food that is not in packaging or is packaged after being ordered by the consumer).
  • How the consumer orders the food- if in your business and the food is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold is PPDS whilst for food items ordered by phone/online mandatory allergen information must be available to the consumer before they purchase the product and also at the point of delivery.

The food.gov.uk website will help you negotiate this labelling maze to ensure you are providing the required information.

A further challenge is the cost to businesses and especially independent operators and SME’s. The size of your business means you may not already have the required roles and systems in place that will facilitate the provision of accurate and up-to-date information for ingredient lists. This, coupled with 16 months of interrupted trading and predictions that returning to pre-Covid trading levels could take 2 years to achieve, the budget to invest in such resource and tech solutions could be prohibitive.

With the date fast approaching, suppliers and tech providers will have been analysing, scoping and developing a solution within their own suite of software to solve their piece of the problem. The challenge is ensuring the end-to-end journey works and is efficient. The required data is likely to involve passing through multiple systems from supplier to recipe management to the menu to the printer. The end result of a legally compliant label on a PPDS item, can only be achieved if all providers work cohesively and at speed.

Ensuring accurate and safe information is a continuous challenge. Always having to provide the consumer with real time and accurate information means the days of a chef sprinting to the supermarket to grab a trolley full of burger buns and frozen chips on an unexpectedly sunny bank holiday Monday, are almost certainly numbered. The ability to be flexible, accept substitutions and quickly provide updated information to guests is critical when choosing tech partners. A complex data flow together with clunky or non-existent processes will harm businesses already dealing with unprecedented challenges.

The reasons for Natasha’s Law is to ensure the safety of the consumer. The challenge with displaying labels (with full ingredient lists) on some food and not on others is the consumer may not understand why they can’t see the same data for the entire offer. Will a customer with a nut allergy, or team member for that matter, understand why a still warm macadamia nut cookie in a display counter is not sold with a label, when a cellophane-wrapped almond croissant next to it is? It’s fair to assume consumers will want or expect to see the same level of information for all foods on offer, regardless of whether they are packaged or not? Having options to expose this data to them digitally should be considered. More and more of us are keen to know the provenance, seasonality and carbon footprint of the food we eat so it’s a good guess to believe they’ll want to know the ingredient lists too.

The good news is that there are ways to lessen the impact of the new legislation!

  • In the short term, you could remove the need for PPDS compliance by removing the food items that require the labelling information or replace with alternatives prepared off site. Literally, remove the challenges.
  • Refine your menus and have fewer ingredients that are shared between recipes and benefit from the likely bonus of reduced wastage.
  • Choose the right tech partners for your needs that can readily integrate with relevant parties within required timescales and can satisfy your future needs such as the imminent calorie labelling regulations.
  • Select label printers that have version control to safeguard the integrity of the data.
  • Expose non-PPDS recipes digitally with all the relevant PPDS information, why not share ingredient lists with customers if you have the data anyway. If possible, invest in digital screens/tablets for customers to use to access the recipes or provide QR codes so they can see them on their own devices.
  • For consistency, safety and an enhanced experience for customers and team members, provide the same level of information for all food items - there are way more allergens than the 14 that currently have to be declared so make this data readily available.

In summary, Natasha’s Law is coming and may herald the start of more regulatory changes so it would be wise to prepare now as there is still time to be ready and mitigate the challenges you may face in doing so.

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Selling breakfast - why you should and how to keep it low cost

Breakfast might be considered the most important meal of the day by many, but when it comes to the hospitality industry that often isn’t the reality. In establishments which are set up for busy lunch and evening times, it’s easy to see why employee hours are focused more on those times.

An alternative reality though is that breakfast can be a really good area for driving sales if it’s done right.

The trend in recent years has been for hotel guests to opt out of breakfast where they’re staying and opt to find an alternative nearby, instead choosing a local business to set them up for the rest of the day. This can be restaurants’ and pubs’ gain and it doesn’t have to be achieved by breaking the bank. This is how.

Keep your prices low

We don’t mean super low but low enough to be very favourable in comparison to a hotel. Breakfast prices in hotels are ever increasing and it’s part of the reason why guests are choosing to eat elsewhere. Your typical hotel breakfast buffet is anywhere from £20-£25 depending where you are - that’s the cost of a nice dinner for a lot of people! Think about it this way; would lowering the prices increase footfall resulting in making money? We definitely think it’s something worth seriously considering.

Locally sourced quality

Traditionally a big breakfast has been hugely popular, but it’s increasingly becoming more about quality with customers also interested in enjoying locally sourced food too. Choosing locally sourced foods opens doors and helps build relationships with nearby companies and there’s a potential to work deals out to your benefit. Small businesses are always eager for opportunities and are likely to give good rates if they get something in return - perhaps a free meal!

Local food and the local angle shouldn’t be underestimated either. People from out of town love to try something from the area they’re visiting and your locally sourced breakfast will leave them with a lovely memory from their visit. Remember, after this they’re probably hitting the road and it’s going to be their last meal before travelling.

Excellent service

Aside from the food, and the setting, a wonderful hospitality experience relies on excellent front-of-house service. It doesn’t hurt to have somebody check if guests want tea and coffee on arrival, clear plates, be approachable and enjoy chatting with them. People are easing into the day and they’ll appreciate on-point service and feeling as those they’re really being taken care of.

Regular and locals

As much as it’s important to target those hotel guests, it’s equally important to make sure you’re attracting locals for breakfast too. People are always looking for somewhere nice to eat in the morning and, if you’ve got empty seats at that time, what’s the harm in seeing if it could work out? A great way to get them in could be to encourage your usual lunch and evening diners with a money off offer or free tea and coffee with their meal.

Intelligent use of staff

The idea of opening up for breakfast might make you think you’ll be using more staffing resources than you’d ideally want to. However, it doesn't necessarily need to be as large an overhead as you might expect as you can make more of the team in the kitchen you have prepping for the day ahead anyway. All it might mean is bringing them in a couple of hours earlier, and the same can be said for front of house staff. A few simple tweaks could make life much easier.

If you would like to talk to us and see how we can help you drop us an email at info@tenkites.com

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Why we’re seeing more than just green shoots of recovery for Hospitality

As we wave goodbye to a January in lockdown with its dark mornings, cold days and the Groundhog Day challenges for many of home schooling, home working, home cooking…. there seems to be many reasons for optimism as we move into February and here are just a few we thought are worth shouting about…

  • Exciting new concepts are being launched or in the pipeline- Jail Break Chicken by TGI Fridays, Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen by Giggling Squid, Soul Ride from House Café Company, Sumi from Novators Hospitality, House of Fu by Rose Thirteen to name a few.
  • Lots of operators are grabbing the opportunity to grow their estate- Oakman Inns, Brewdog, Ole & Steen, Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Rosa’s Thai Café, Vinoteca, Blue Lagoon, Fat Twins, Bao, Toast, Elite Pubs, Rustico Italiano, French 75, Hot Stone, Jollibee- the list goes on…!
  • The industry is primed for major investment from a number of sector heavyweights- Hawthorn has put aside £250m for acquisitions within its community pub sector, Wolt have raised £357m for its food delivery platform, Rooney Anand plans to invest £200m in the pub sector
  • Delivery goes from strength to strength with reach being extended further into the suburbs for customers missing out on their fix of wagamama, Nando’s, Giggling Squid and the like with predictions that 85% of customers are likely to order with the same or higher frequency than previously
  • The increasing popularity of ‘Dine at Home’ kits of restaurant quality food, requiring minimal effort or chefing skills, are providing an essential financial lifeline to our much-loved favourites- here’s hoping for bumper orders from those looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home this year
  • The 2021 Michelin Guide for GB and Ireland was unveiled with many stars retained, gained and 17 restaurants newly awarded a star as well as 23 green stars for the new sustainability distinction. Well done each and every one of you!

Here at Ten Kites we are humbled to be part of such an innovative, passionate and creative industry that is so determined to not only survive but come back stronger than before.

There are still significant hurdles to overcome and lots of questions to be answered- when will the sector be given the green light to reopen? What restrictions will remain in place? Will the rent moratorium, VAT reduction and business rates reduction be extended? Will the Job Retention scheme be extended?

However, the recent admissions that hospitality has never been found to be a significant factor in covid transmission-including during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme- or that the curfew had no scientific proof behind it together with transmission rates tumbling and 1 in 8 UK adults now having received their first vaccine dose, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are excited to see what each new day brings.

If you would like to talk to us and see how we can help you drop us an email at info@tenkites.com

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Dry January: Another Challenge for Hospitality?

At the time of writing the nation has gone into a third lockdown. Much of the UK has already been in a similar situation since the end of the second lockdown at the beginning of December.

The length of this third lockdown remains indefinite so who knows what the situation will be in a month’s time. What we do know about January though is that, even without the existence of COVID, it’s become a tricky one to navigate for hospitality thanks to the rise in popularity of Dry January.

The narrative around Dry January has two themes. The first is the health and wellbeing angle, giving up the drink for a month is seen as a good opportunity for cleansing the body after putting it through the excesses of the festive period. The second, and again it’s linked to Christmas, is not going out for a drink can mean saving the pennies after some heavy spending at the end of the previous year.

In 2019 the content of online reviews painted a clear picture. Those referencing Dry January increased by a massive 61% from 2018 whilst the positivity of those reviews saw a rise too, jumping from 31% in 2018 to 44% in 2019 and 75% in 2020. One in ten drinkers observed Dry January almost a year ago, which was a record high and 58% of those people looked to choose low and no alcohol beverages, which does point towards how operators are catering to the changing tastes of their audience. That figure being so high because essentially they’ve got a lot more choice than they used to.

Those figures are positives for hospitality. It shows it is adapting but that also operators are able to provide better alternatives for their customers. Online reviews give us more insight. On Trip Advisor 27% referenced taste and 23% referenced choice.

There may be another theme to this too. Dry January isn’t an only child. There’s also it’s sibling, Sober October which shows there’s a definite change in trends happening. Younger people are preferring coffee shops for day-time meetups rather than pubs and bars. Alcohol Change UK suggests the amount of people going teetotal has increased amongst 16-44 year olds since 2005, with health-conscious 16-24 year olds now the group least likely to drink.

Dry January is a challenge for hospitality and it’s one they were rising to. People do want to be healthy but they also still like to socialise. Allow them to be healthy in a social environment and they will come. At the start of the year, before COVID, lockdowns and tiers, there was great news for the industry with new UK pub numbers growing for the first time in a decade, largely thanks to adapting to their audience, offering more premium experiences, overnight stays and diverse food offerings.

We know January 2021 is going to be very different and we do know once the world, and hospitality return, to something that looks normal life, they’ll have to adapt to the changing habits of their audience again.

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Benefits of Using Digital Menus

Many restaurants are integrating the use of digital menu technology alongside their paper based ones. Digital media changes the perception of consumers and impacts how businesses present themselves.

There are a multitude of benefits to having digital menus and food operators are quickly realising how helpful they are in improving their business practices. Let’s discuss some of those benefits:

Change menus quickly and easily

You know how it goes, you need to make changes to your menu and you have to run it through the head office design team, which can take months to plan, formulate and produce. Whatsmore, you then need to print a whole new batch of menus for what can sometimes only be small changes. It costs time you don’t have and money you shouldn’t need to spend. If you have a digital menu, you don’t have to do any of that. Simply make changes yourself, on a central platform, with a few clicks of a button and put the new menu live. This makes it so much more efficient to update menu items as you update when you feel a change is needed, whilst also providing the ability to remove food items that aren’t performing well.

Faster ordering

Digital menus have the ability to showcase food items with real photography, encouraging customers to make quicker decisions about what kind of dish they would like to order. It takes the hassle out of having to read detailed menu descriptions, imagining what something might look like or spying on other tables in an effort to know what looks good. This faster ordering process helps serve more customers at a time, reduces the waiting time, allows them to see exactly what’s on offer and will positively impact customer experience and service ratings.

This is going down particularly well with the younger market who are used to hospitality venues providing them with digital solutions to help make their purchases. Launched in 2017, Wetherspoons order and pay app is now part of their fabric with 76% of their millennial customer base saying they’ve used the app in the last three years. However, it should be noted that this solution sits alongside traditional menus as much of their demographic is older and have preference for paper based menus. This is an important part of their strategy as they aim to cater to all.

Better Communication

Food operators can sell, share unique menus, and publish information to a target market all with a digital menu.

Allergen Safety

A digital solution ensures clear and correct allergen and nutritional information is available, removing the risk of team members providing out of date- and potentially harmful- information to guests.

Cost Savings

Not only do digital menus provide all the relevant allergen information, they also help to reduce your operating costs too. It means you never have to print brand new menus nor have to reprint existing ones due to often small and subtle changes. Simply log in to a central system, make the necessary changes, and all menus will be updated instantly regardless of where they are. It’s that easy.

In an age where operators need to demonstrate more due diligence and compliance than ever before, it makes sense to introduce digital solutions alongside traditional ones. But unlike many modern technological solutions, the transition doesn’t have to be complicated. Ten Kites provides you with a simple and easy way to publish your menu information everywhere you need it, including online, apps, EPOS, table ordering solutions and much more. If you would like to find out more about how this digital solution can benefit your business, please get in touch.

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How hospitality stepped up to provide free lunches despite facing huge challenges

When the government said no, hospitality said yes. When the government voted against feeding children, hospitality voted in favour.

When times were at their hardest, hospitality realised it was even harder for children. And so, almost without a second thought for their own businesses and hardships during the worst of years, businesses stepped up to provide what children needed. Free meals during school holidays.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford MBE was ‘blown away’, as were communities around the country when many hospitality businesses stepped up to support the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign in October. The campaign, set up by Rashford, for free school meals to be offered over school holidays, was a response to the government voting against Labour’s motion for just that over half term holidays until Easter 2021.

The whole scenario showed just how communities can come together to support each other in times of struggle, and what a struggle 2020 has been for the hospitality sector. The sector has suffered more than any other as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with some sources citing at least £30billion in losses. Even now, during what would traditionally be the busiest time of the year, the new tier system means the majority of hospitality businesses across the country remain shut.

Despite those losses, it didn’t stop hospitality stepping up when it mattered most. Pubs, cafes, chippies, bakeries and restaurants have all joined in with the campaign. By the first morning after the vote in October 100 hospitality venues had already pledged to serve packed lunches during the holidays. As we approach the Christmas break, many more have followed.

In the aftermath of the vote from MPs, Rashford started sharing messages from hospitality businesses across the country who were offering their support and making it known you can rely on them.

McDonald’s was the biggest name to help, announcing to offer a million free meals for UK families ‘in greatest need’, but the majority of donations have come from independent, single-site operators, as well as local councils and catering companies.

One of those business owners who joined in is Katrina Page, who runs Page’s Bakery in County Durham. A quote from her sums up the general feeling: “Kids don’t need to suffer do they? We can’t see children go hungry here. It isn’t fair”.

Rashford has said the real superstars in this country can be found in the heart of most cities, towns and villages who support our most vulnerable across the UK. He’s right. Hospitality, and everyone who’s come together for this campaign, we salute you.

If you would like to sign the petition to end child poverty, you can do so at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554276/. For the full list of organisations contributing to the campaign, go here https://endchildfoodpoverty.org/help

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