Insite meets Tony Howard, Director of Strategy and Development for Warwick Retail to find out more about what’s here on campus.
Can you tell us about what you and your team do?
We manage 14 food, drink and shopping outlets on campus and work alongside other areas of Warwick, including the SU, to ensure there is a broad variety of products and services on offer. We want to support the whole of the Warwick community’s needs so we work with the University to identify opportunities to do it. We manage and run the monthly food markets on the piazza space; we manage the 115 Amazon lockers on campus (the largest installation of its kind in the world) and recently, we provided free tea and coffee to students who were studying late into the night in term 3. We’ve also put in and will continue to maintain all the equipment for three ‘heat your own food’ areas for students on campus.
What’s your approach?
We’re really about creating spaces that are more than just standard food, drink and shopping outlets. We want to create experiences – places for groups to come together and socialise or spaces to get away from everything else and reflect. We’ve become very thoughtful in our approach and we’re spending a lot of time considering how the whole offer fits together – so not just the food or the drink, but the furniture, the décor and the ambience for example.
What are you proud of?
Our staff – without a doubt. We get a lot of positive feedback about our team. They’re fantastic at supporting the community. We train them to the highest standards; our chefs are trained in allergen awareness and our staff can provide advice and support on individual specific dietary requirements. Our baristas are SCAE trained (Speciality Coffee Association of Europe) and recently represented the University at the 2016 London Coffee Festival - Warwick was the only university to be invited to the event. One of our team just won a University staff award and the team also won at the Campus and Commercial Services Group (CCSG) Awards.
How do you manage to deliver for everyone on campus when the community’s needs are so different?
We maintain a varied and balanced offer across the whole of campus. You may not be aware that there are so many different places to go and just think it’s the one in your building so I’d really encourage everyone to go out and explore the campus. We’ve got the new WBS Café that has a great Southern Asian food range as, well as a café menu, but also provides colouring books, outdoor table tennis and an informal work area but we’ve also got Fusion that offers Asian inspired hot food for less than £5 if you use your Eating at Warwick card. We’ve got a wide variety of international food along with grab and go lunch ranges in rootes grocery store and expert barista coffee and cake in Humanities Café, you can watch the ducks in the water pool. We know that not everybody wants the same thing at the same price point so we’ve worked very hard to provide a greater range of food and drink products that cater for all tastes and budgets and we’ve also extended our opening hours.
Cost is always identified as a challenge for you – how are you addressing cost?
We benchmark regularly with other universities and the high street and work with the University to regulate costs on campus. The University subsidises the cost of food on campus for staff and students through the Eating at Warwick card and we work very closely together to keep a balanced and broad offer in all parts of the University. We’ve also brought in more value ranges. We’ve introduced a buy-back scheme in the book & gift shop, we offer free tap water in all our cafes, we offer 10p off the price of a hot drink when you bring in your own travel mug and we have special offers every week in rootes grocery store.
Find out more on the Warwick Retail website.