The Restaurant Conference will return on 18 September 2019 at the Marriott Grosvenor Square, London. To be the first to hear about our 2019 programme, please register your interest by emailing

2018 Agenda:

9.00 – Registration

9.45 – Welcome – James Wallin, editor, MCA

Jon Knight, Jamie Oliver, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 20189.50 – Jon Knight, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group

Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group chief executive Jon Knight will give insights into his transformation plan to reconnect the brand with its core audience. He will also discuss new growth avenues, including the landmark partnership with workplace caterer, Aramark, and ongoing opportunities internationally and in travel hubs.

John Eckbert, CEO Five Guys, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 201810.10 – John Eckbert, Five Guys

John Eckbert, CEO of Five Guys UK and the man who brought the burger chain to these shores, will look back at the key challenges and discuss how the brand will maintain its rapid expansion as it marks its five-year anniversary in the UK.
The brand has grown to more than 80 sites and is on track to open 20 in 2018 alone. In terms of turnover, Five Guys has reached the top 30 UK casual dining brands as of December 2017 (Source: MCA data).

High street retail panel, the Restaurant Conference 201810.30 – Future of the high street panel

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UK Hospitality
Simon French, director, Bixteth Partners
Simon Wilkinson, chief executive consultant, The Carlyle Group
Rob Meadows, director, Davis Coffer Lyons

Tom Weaver, Flyt, speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201811.00 – Tom Weaver, Flyt

Tom will talk through how digital – and in particular forces like online ordering and delivery – is transforming and disrupting the essence of bricks and mortar hospitality and how what we consider to be a restaurant may fundamentally change.

Dennis Deare, Mitchells & Butlers, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 201811.10 – Dennis Deare, Mitchells & Butlers (Miller & Carter)

Dennis Deare, who is heading up the 100-strong Miller & Carter brand at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), will talk about how it has more than doubled in size over the past two years and spearheaded M&B’s evolution towards a more premium experience. He will also discuss the brand’s international expansion and the wider work M&B is doing around menu psychology and sales / service optimisation.

11.30 – Break

Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 201811.50 – Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress

Zoe Bowley, UK managing director at PizzaExpress, will talk about how the brand is staying relevant and listening to its customers, the plans for the future and how to tap into the experiential market. The brand is on track for 7 new openings in 2018, with further restaurants being rolled out across the Welcome Break estate.

Michael Powner, Charles Russell Speechlys, speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201812.05 – Michael Powner, Head of Food & Beverage, Charles Russell Speechlys

Michael will discuss Brexit and the key challenges ahead from a legal perspective.

Investors panel, the Restaurant Conference 201812.15 – Investor panel

Graeme Smith, managing director, AlixPartners London
Jason McGibbon, Bridgepoint
Darrel Connel, Imbiba
Robin Rowland, TriSpan
Graeme Smith will host a panel of leading investors in the sector, gauging their views of the restaurant sector.

Jonathan Recanati, Farmer J; Rik Campbell Kricket; Eve Bugler, Bababoom; speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201812.45 – “One to watch” panel

Eve Bugler, founder and MD, Bababoom
Rik Campbell, co-founder, Kricket
Jonathan Recanati, founder of Farmer J
Every year at MCA’s Restaurant Conference we shine a light on those concepts we believe are well placed to make their mark on the sector for years to come.

13.05 – Lunch

Karen Jones, Prezzo, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 201814.00 – Karen Jones, Prezzo

In her first speech since becoming executive chair of Prezzo, Karen Jones will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the Italian casual dining chain and the wider sector.

Benjamin Calleja, Livit, speaking at the MCA Restaurant Conference 201814.20 – Benjamin Calleja, CEO, Livit

Calleja will share insights from Livit’s work with some of the biggest restaurant brands on the planet. He will look at the use of AI in triggering customer behaviour and share learnings from Livit’s test-lab restaurant in Stockholm.

Krister Kristiansen, Attensi, speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201814.40 – Krister Kristiansen, Attensi UK

How virtual reality, gaming and analytics can engage the smartphone generation and boost customer experience

MCA presenting key findings of MCA's Restaurant Market Report 201814.50 – MCA

Simon Stenning, strategic advisor at MCA, and Steve Gotham, director of insight at MCA, will present key findings from MCA’s UK Restaurant Market Report 2018, focusing on the trends, challenges and opportunities shaping the restaurant industry. You can order the report by emailing or calling 020 7611 0405.

View full report details >>

15.10 – Break

Rohan Pradhan, COO, Deliveroo, speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201815.30 – Rohan Pradhan, Deliveroo

In the past year, a number of brands have launched virtual restaurants brands, including Busaba Eathai, Yoobi, Chilli Banana, Lievita, Proove and Wagamama to name a few. Rohan Pradhan, COO of Deliveroo, will talk about what virtual or delivery-only brands mean for the restaurant sector.

Tom Lee & David Jones, speaking at the Restaurant Conference 201815.50 – Tom Lee, editor, Food Spark and David Jones

Tom will sit down with food innovation expert David Jones to talk about some of the consumer trends that are electrifying the UK.

New Voices Panel, Restaurant Conference 201816.05 – “New Voices” speaker panel

• Hosted by Adam Walford, Partner and Head of Retail & Leisure, Howard Kennedy
Jo Fleet, MD Flat Iron
Amber Wood, MD Cosy Club at Loungers
Richard Ferrier, operations director at Brasserie Blanc
As part of the emerging generation of sector leaders, Jo, Amber and Richard will be sharing some of their career defining moments so far and discussing what the future looks like for the restaurant sector.

16.35 – Drinks reception