5 Things We Learnt At NRB 2018

5 Things We Learnt At NRB 2018

On March 20th and 21st, the beautiful arched roof space of the Manchester Central Convention Complex once again played host to the North’s premier hospitality show — Northern Restaurant & Bar 2018.

Stephensons are one of the longest running exhibitors at NRB, and we were delighted to be able to kick off our 150th anniversary celebrations during a show that’s renowned for its buoyant atmosphere and engaging events.

Throughout the two days we had a lot of fun showing off brand new products on our custom-built, open plan wooden stand. Along the way we launched our most extensive catalogue ever, as well as our limited edition celebratory newspaper — all the while meeting friendly faces from all facets of the hospitality industry and giving advice and inspiration.

Here are some of the things we learnt from our wooden vantage point on stand D37, as well as through a few explorative trips across the convention hall…

1. Plastic straws may soon be a thing of the past

Here at Stephensons, we’ve been pushing alternatives to plastic straws for quite some time, but even our experienced team were shocked at how often the topic came into conversation. It seems that so many operators have decided or are looking to make a responsible change and as such our sustainable straw section went down an absolute treat. People were constantly enquiring about styles, prices, disposal methods and availability. What a difference a few months can make for the whole industry.

To view our range of eco-friendly straws, click here.

2. Technology is a touchy subject

In the fascinating Bruntwood debate on the embracement and efficiency of technology in hospitality, an expert panel consisting of Jamie Cambell; Gavin Adair; Nadia el Hadery; Laurence McCarthy and Johnny Smith discussed change and challenges for the industry. As is often the case with such mass and rapid transformation, opinions were mixed.

Some traditionalist views floated around expressed how technology, such as mobile ordering, could impact negatively on customer satisfaction as it removes some integral aspects of interaction and communication. One thing Johnny Smith said sums this up saliently — “ultimately your job is in hospitality. You should want to spend one on one time with the customers”. There were also interesting points raised about the effectiveness of technology though, with Johnny equally remaking on how the booking system ‘Tock’ has helped with organisation and reducing the number of no-shows. Another advocating voice for the embracement of new tech came from Nadia, who raised a strong point on how technology can be used to aid sustainability by measuring, amongst other things, wastage. This type of information will be crucial for if (most likely when) government sanctions on sustainability are introduced for businesses.

Regardless of your stance, technology will play a key role in the future of the hospitality industry. What’s important to remember is the CGA fact displayed at the beginning of the debate — 81% of people say the experience of eating out is the most important factor. So, if you are trying out some newfangled approach, make sure any use of technology will help, not hinder guest experience.

3. Presentation can’t be overlooked

We were once again honoured to be headline sponsors of the fantastic Food Porn Awards, who had their awards presentation on the Wednesday afternoon of NRB. Back in February, our MD Henry had the difficult task of helping judge the winners of these awards, and if you’re wondering exacly what all the fuss is about, here’s a quick explanation… The Food Porn Awards is a unique competition that seeks to celebrate the aesthetics of food, with dishes judged by their appearance. Simple as that.

It was great to be at the NRB Hub on Wednesday to see the eventual winners unveiled and thanks to everyone involved for a great ceremony. We want to wish a huge congratulations to L20, Peace & Loaf and Wood Manchester for their wins and also well done to all the entrants involved. As mentioned earlier, dining out is an experience and the Food Porn Awards helps celebrate a crucial part of that experience — HOW IT LOOKS!

4. Champagne and cake make for great break

Despite the buzz at NRB, working on the stand showing off new products and speaking to a million different people can be a tiny bit tiring. So, how pleased and grateful must we have been when out of nowhere the Stephensons stand was surprised by NRB CEO Thom Hethrington and Matty White who came bearing gifts of cake and champagne.

It turns out that the lovely lot at NRB were there to share some well wishes for our 150th anniversary, and we were very happy indeed for the unscheduled visit. Who knew how well champagne and cake combine for a balanced lunchtime meal?

5. It certainly isn’t grim up North

One stat that NRB posted just before the show detailed how the restaurant and bar scenes in Liverpool, Manchester & Leeds are growing at rates more than double those of London. Accordingly, all aspects of hospitality will have to keep up with this rapid development and walking around the Manchester Central exhibition hall, it was evident and enlightening to see that this is really happening.

From the booming craft beer quarter that showed off how much beer is lovingly being brewed in the North, to the big names in attendance, all the way to the grand stands from thriving global and local businesses looking to make waves in Manchester and beyond, NRB 18 has proven that the old adage “it’s grim up North” couldn’t be more wrong.

With beginnings in Manchester’s Barton Arcade, to our current Stockport home, Stephensons have now been supporters of the Northern hospitality industry for 150 years. After launching our new catalogue at NRB 18 and seeing how much interest and activity there was, we can honestly say that we’ve never been more excited for the future of the hospitality industry in the North.

Stephenson’s Win Big at the FPA Awards

Stephenson’s Win Big at the FPA Awards

Stockport based catering equipment supplier Stephensons have managed to overcome some fierce competition to be named 2018’s FPA Regional Distributor of the Year at the annual Foodservice Packaging Association’s Awards show in Brighton. 

Thursday 8th March saw the industry-renowned event take place, with the beautiful Grand Hotel Brighton playing host to a night of celebration and recognition for excellence in the food packaging industry. As stated by FPA chairman Howard Collier in his introductory speech, it’s been a year of immense analysis and adjustment for the industry. This was reflected by the FPA’s decision to consider sustainability and the environment as a fundamental part of their judging stipulations.

The annual event was hosted by comedian Rod Woodward and attended by over 400 people from throughout the food packaging industry. The awards were preceded by the FPA Exhibition in the afternoon, which showcased some of the innovative packaging and products that are helping to shape the industry. The main attraction of the event though was of course the awards show, and Stephensons were up for a big one — Regional Distributor of the Year!

The Regional Distributor of the Year award commends excellence in food packaging distribution, taking into account quality, variety, price and sustainability. Notably, the award is voted for by actual customers who are asked to give a detailed account of their supplier. So, all in all, it’s quite the prize.

Despite some very worthy entries, it was Stephensons who picked up the trophy on the night — much to the surprise and delight of attendees Henry Stephenson and Julian Lewis Booth.

Commenting on the win, managing director Henry Stephenson said, “Disposables and food packaging have become an integral aspect of our service over the last few years, so it’s an honour be recognised by an organisation like the FPA. With the whole of our industry currently looking towards sustainability and the environment, it really feels like a significant year to win. What makes it even more special is the fact that it’s our own customers who’ve had their say and I’d like to personally thank them for choosing Stephensons.”

2018 marks 150 years in business for Stephensons and this award adds to a year of celebration that will include the launch of a new website and the release of their most extensive catalogue ever at Northern Restaurant and Bar 18 in Manchester.

Churchill Autumn Additions Now In Our Showroom and Online!

Churchill Autumn Additions Now In Our Showroom and Online!

For many, autumn means brown leaves and shorter days. Despite this, there is some cheerfulness to be found because the change in the seasons has also signalled the release of Churchill’s new Autumn 17 range. Read on for the lowdown on these exciting new items!


In line with the continuing revival of studio pottery, the Raku collection celebrates the heritage of traditional glazing techniques. A stylish Agate Grey tone is the latest colour addition to this already popular collection. There is also a brand spanking new range of six oblong plates in three key sizes, and these are available in Topaz Blue and Quartz Black.

Raku Studio Prints Agate Grey

Find Raku Agate Grey Here!

Hints is an exciting new collection from the Stonecast range. The concept for the Hints range is motivated by those who like the rustic Stonecast look, but would prefer it with a splash of colour. Stonecast Hints is hand decorated with a fine coloured speckle, the same speckle colour is hand applied to the edge to create a stippled band, achieving a rustic finish.

The Bamboo range has been given a colourful twist with the arrival of two new feature colours – Dusk and Mist. The two tones are inspired by the shades of the landscape and they make exciting new complementary additions to this series of durable yet elegant tableware.

Cool Slate Blue is a new colour within the Homespun collection. This shade works to create a stunning dark canvas for showcasing a range of cuisines, and it is available in a range of core shapes and sizes to suit your dining needs. The Homespun design is essentially a blending of contemporary sophistication with fond nostalgia.

Homespun Slate Blue

View the extensive range!

The new additions to the Vintage Prints range are ideal to incorporate with the existing items in the range, to add colour and pattern to traditional whitewear or for mixing eclectically with Stonecast and Studio Prints collections. The trend for vintage chic is very much in the fashion spotlight and this range typifies this popular aesthetic.

Stonecast is an exciting collection of rustic and hand decorated products inspired by the changing seasons and fresh ingredients. Stonecast is hand decorated with a fine speckle and rustic edge in a rich golden brown. Bringing rustic charm to cookware, this range available in Barley White. The seven new cookware items are designed to complement all existing Stonecast ranges – HintsColours and Patina. They are also ideal for mixing and matching with other Churchill collections.

Stonecast Cookware

7 New Barley White Items Here!

From the Churchill Alchemy Buffet range comes Melamine Trace – a versatile, strong and practical collection of serving bowls that feature an alluring, rounded shape. This collection is based upon the twin combination of handsome aesthetics and trustable durability. The Melamine Trace comes in two distinct finishes. The matt white provides an understated-yet-stylish palette for exciting food presentation whereas the speckled granite grey finish makes for a contemporary take on the serving bowl.

Melamine Trace Bowls

Alchemy Additions Arrive!

These New Churchill Items Are Now On Display In The Stephenson’s Showroom!

Visit our Showroom

To see the new Churchill items!

Stephenson's Showroom

All of the new Autumn 17 Churchill items are available to view in our Stephenson’s showroom and one of our experienced advisors will be more than happy to show you the range and talk you through the best options and combinations to suit your needs. A visit to the largest cash & carry showroom in the North is more than worth your time!

We’re located on the A6 road and our address is:

Kennerley Works, 161 Buxton Rd, Stockport SK2 6EQ.

Our opening times are:

 

 

Opening Times:

Monday 9am – 5:30pm
Tuesday 9am – 5:30pm
Wednesday 9am – 5:30pm
Thursday 9am – 5:30pm
Friday 9am – 5:30pm
Saturday 9:30am – 3pm
Sunday Closed

 

 

 

A Happy 30th Birthday to Kirsty Millward!

A Happy 30th Birthday to Kirsty Millward!

We’d like everybody to join us today in wishing Stephenson’s very own Kirsty … a happy 30th birthday!

 

For thirteen years Kirsty has been a hardworking, dedicated and enthusiastic member of the team who’s always happy to lend a hand or a smile. Kirsty started out in the sales department where she spent ten years advising customers over the phone, before moving to her current position in the cash & carry department where she has been whizzing around making the Stephenson’s on-site store an all around better, brighter place for the past three years!

Commenting on the key differences between sales and cash & carry, Kirsty thoughtfully said “They are different challenges. Sales is a lot of mental work, whereas cash and carry is more focused on physicality and individual interactions.” When asked about her favourite aspects of the role, Kirsty highlighted taking on challenges such as “Big projects, new racking and tackling the christmas chaos!”. The worst part? – “Because I’m a happy person, I hate when orders go wrong because it is never nice to let customers down”. From a customer perspective, you couldn’t really ask for a better response could you?

For a bit of fun and to celebrate Kirsty’s big day, we decided to put her under a bit of pressure and ask her a quick fire round of questions that we’ve aptly named – ’30 for thirty’. Read the answers below and if you happen to bump into Kirsty today, make sure you warmly wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Here’s to wishing Kirsty a great day,

Everyone from the Stephenson’s team x

30 for Thirty!

  1. Cat or dog? – DOG
  2. Crisps or chocolate? – CHOCOLATE
  3. Mac or PC? – MAC
  4. Lucozade or coke? – COKE
  5. Coffee or Tea? – TEA
  6. Cash & Carry or Warehouse? – CASH & CARRY
  7. Henry or Julian? – JULIAN
  8. Tuna Pasta or Chinese? – TUNA PASTA
  9. Going out or staying in? – STAYING IN
  10. Dinner or dessert? DESSERT
  11. Netflix or Youtube? – NETFLIX
  12. Facebook or Twitter? – FACEBOOK
  13. Pen or pencil? – PENCIL
  14. Game of Thrones or Pokemon – It took some deliberation but it was finally settled on POKEMON
  15. Train or Plane? – PLANE
  16. Aaron or Chris North? – In a brutal blow as Aaron watched on, Kirsty went for CHRIS NORTH
  17. TV or book? – BOOK
  18. Winter or summer? – SUMMER
  19. Dine out or takeaway? – TAKEAWAY
  20. Beer or cider? – CIDER
  21. Circle or square? – CIRCLE
  22. City or country? – COUNTRY
  23. Call or text? – TEXT
  24. Greggs or McDonalds? – GREGGS
  25. Jason Momoa or Kit Harrington? – JASON MOMOA
  26. Fudge cake or vanilla slice? – FUDGE CAKE
  27. Running or weights? – WEIGHTS
  28. Day or Night? – NIGHT
  29. Christian or Jordan? … … SHELL
  30. And finally… The most important question… Till 1 or Till 2? TILL 2!
Serve Your Coffee With a Conscience

Serve Your Coffee With a Conscience

Coffee is officially the most popular drink on the planet. With over two billion cups consumed worldwide every single day, and an estimated 55 million drank daily in the UK alone, it’s official – we love coffee. And what’s not to love about a piping hot, flavourful caffeine kick? For many of us the day doesn’t start, or at least we don’t function, till we’ve been snapped into consciousness by a good old warming coffee. 

This love affair with coffee has resulted in a café-culture boom. Every single high street now seems to be pandering to our coffee addiction with new cafes and stores seemingly popping up everywhere. In fact, the UK coffee shop market is currently enjoying its biggest period of growth since 2008. And this widespread popularity is evident – just look at the tube, public transport or any city street during the hours of 7am – 10am and you’ll be drowned in a sea of coffee cups. Again at lunch, swarms will wander to the nearest caffeine-touting counter, grab a cup of coffee and leave. For many it’s a daily routine. Unfortunately, it’s a harmful one. These cups have to go somewhere, and that somewhere happens to often be a landfill.

Figures from a 2015 study by Cardiff University claim that 2.5 billion disposable cups a year are discarded. Of that massive number, it is estimated that only one in 400 is actually recycled, the rest are destined for our already brimming landfills. Some bigger companies such as Starbucks and Costa have made some efforts to reduce the effect on the environment by offering to recycle their customer’s cups, unfortunately due to a polyethylene coating, these cups are very difficult to recycle.

Fortunately, there is a solution. A solution that has all the benefits of a regular disposable coffee cup, yet is entirely environmentally friendly. This sustainable solution is the Vegware cup.

This award-winning cup is made from two layers of sustainably sourced board and instead of nasty plastic, they are insulated by plant based PLA. Here is a 100% recyclable and 100% compostable cup that doesn’t pail in comparison to a disposable. In a world where eco-consciousness is rapidly becoming one of the most important aspects for consumers, one simple change to compostable cups can do a world of good for your business and, more importantly, the environment. Click the link below to see our range of compostable cups AND entirely compostable lids, to help you save the environment one cup at a time.


Stephenson’s Cyclepaths: Tour de Blackpool 2017

Fundraising for Hospitality Action

UPDATE: After a successful (and very tiring) day, all that is left is to say yet another massive thank you to all of our sponsors, everyone that donated and everyone that made the event possible!

We are happy to announce that, at the last count, we have received just over £1800 in sponsorship. If you’d like to donate more to the worthy people over at Hospitality Action, the link to our JustGiving page can be found just above the gallery above.

Thanks again!

 

– The Stephensons Team

Making their first (and probably final) appearance, the Stephensons Cyclepaths will take to the open road on Sunday, 9th July 2017.

 

Covering a massive 60 miles from Manchester, through Lancashire and onto the Blackpool Promenade, the team of 22 not so finely tuned athletes will be raising money for our chosen charity, Hospitality Action.

Hospitality Action offer vital assistance to all who work or have worked within the UK hospitality industry and find themselves in crisis. Find out more about our chosen charity here: http://www.hospitalityaction.org.uk

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Donations are sent directly to the charity to save time and reduce costs. All donations will be greatly appreciated, thank you for your generosity.

Stephensons will match any sum raised up to the value of £1,000.

 

From all the staff at Stephensons, “Good Luck, no moaning & we will meet you at the end for a well deserved pint!”.

Fundraising for Hospitality Action

Meet the Cyclepaths

Henry Stephenson

Henry Stephenson

Managing Director

Aaron Letch

Aaron Letch

Cash & Carry Sales Manager

Beth Walker

Beth Walker

Warehouse Team

Nick Guest

Nick Guest

Warehouse Team

Mark Lees

Mark Lees

Warehouse Team

Alex Lewis-Booth

Alex Lewis-Booth

Warehouse Team

Julian Lewis-Booth

Julian Lewis-Booth

Commercial Director

Chris North

Chris North

Cash & Carry Assistant Manager

Euan Stirling

Euan Stirling

Territory Manager

Stuart Linsey

Stuart Linsey

Purchasing Manager

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Operations Manager

Matthew Coulthard

Matthew Coulthard

Customer Service Advisor

Connor Hambleton

Connor Hambleton

Warehouse Supervisor

Adam Miller

Adam Miller

Customer Service Advisor

Sophie Cottam

Sophie Cottam

Returns Co-Ordinator

Gary Bellamy

Gary Bellamy

Customer Services Manager

Philip Thwaites

Philip Thwaites

Warehouse Team

Craig Mason

Craig Mason

Graphic Designer

Jack Clayton

Jack Clayton

Warehouse Team

Michael Pearson

Michael Pearson

Buyer

Kevin Shervin

Kevin Shervin

Warehouse Team

Simon Weston

Simon Weston

Warehouse Team

Fundraising for Hospitality Action

Stephenson’s Cyclepaths: Tour de Blackpool 2017

Click to visit our JustGiving page