Keynote speakers announced for 2015 Casual Dining show

Karen Forrester TGI Fridays

Karen Forrester (pictured), chief executive of TGI Friday’s UK, is among a line-up of business leaders in the hospitality sector confirmed for next year’s Casual Dining show.

She is one of several keynote speakers announced for the exhibition in London on February 25 and 26. Others include Stephen Holmes, CEO of ASK Italian and Zizzi, and Alasdair Murdoch, CEO of Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

The show and its programme of speakers are aimed at casual dining operators including multiple and independent operators of pubs, bars, and restaurants.

Sessions will also feature Anthony Pender, the new chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and managing director of The Yummy Pub Company, and Kate Nicholls, CEO of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

Anthony, who will be formally appointed chairman of BII next year, called Casual Dining a “welcome change to the trade show calendar”, adding: “With its diversity of stands and lots of great food and drink producers, I would definitely recommend pub operators visit Casual Dining next year.”

In his talk, he will be outlining his vision for the future of hospitality, discussing how raising standards in licensed retail can benefit the whole casual dining sector.

Kate Nicholls will looks ahead to next May’s general election, outlining the likely impact of a change in government – in terms of rents, rates, tax and food – for pub and restaurant operators.

Stephen Holmes will talk about ASK Italian’s significant period of change over the last five years and illustrate how people – from the front-of-house team to the chefs – are the key to creating a winning customer experience.

Great customer service will also be the focus of Karen Forrester’s talk. “Friday’s is differentiated by offering experiences that connect emotionally with our guests,” she said. “Our theories and philosophies provide teachings to drive decision making and behaviours aimed at strengthening those emotional connections and removing any obstacles. In times of great change or turbulence we call on our theories and philosophies to guide and reassure us.”

Forrester will discuss traditions that have been upheld in TGI Friday’s for almost 50 years, and the renewed values that help drive the company to behave with “pride, passion and personality”.

With over 20 years’ experience in the restaurant industry, Alasdair Murdoch will provide insights from the turnaround of Gourmet Burger Kitchen which included investing significantly in the quality of the food, re-investing in the restaurants, and developing the GBK teams in each restaurant.

The full Keynote programme will be announced in January 2015.

Registration for the show at the Business Design Centre in Islington is now open. To register for a free trade pass, visit and quote priority code CDPR1, or click here.

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