Star-studded line-up for HRC 2020

Liz Cooley finds out what’s on the agenda at the newly rebranded Hotelympia show in London this March

HRC, the rebranded Hotelympia show, which has taken place in London since 1935 – and now returns to its original name – is taking place at London’s ExCeL on 3-5 March. Offering foodservice professionals the chance to meet with a range of leading suppliers, the show promises that attendees will get the chance to discover the latest products, trends and solutions across the foodservice and hospitality industry.

Hosting 650 exhibitors and welcoming 21,000 visitors, the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Show (HRC) comprises four shows across two halls: The Foodservice Show, The Professional Kitchen Show, The Interiors and Tabletop Show and The Hospitality Tech Show.

The perfect platform to research and source new products, the show also provides visitors with unrivalled networking opportunities, encouraging greater awareness and learnings across specialisms.

“For foodservice consultants, it is all about continuous professional development,” says Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI, chair of FCSI UK & Ireland and managing partner of Merritt-Harrison Catering Consultancy, who agrees that networking is a key aspect of visiting trade shows.

“It’s about keeping your eyes and ears open as you go around. People often spend time with the exhibitors and suppliers they know and potentially miss out on the opportunity to meet new entrants that might be of benefit to their clients.”

A positive influence

A programme of seminars and interactive sessions across the shows will feature the industry’s leading restaurateurs, hoteliers, caterers and designers discussing some of the sector’s hottest topics.

The Vision Stage will host talks, panel discussions and interviews with industry-leading speakers on the latest trends and challenges facing the industry. Topics will cover sustainability and waste management, marketing and branding masterclasses, alternative revenue streams and the future of restaurant.

Also live on The Vision Stage, HRC will present of the results of its survey into salaries within the hospitality sector, as part of a wider ambition to tackle staff shortages and increase retention rates.

The Staff Canteen Live stage will host some of the industry’s biggest influencers, including pioneering chefs and top front-of-house professionals, giving the audience an insight into their partnership. The line-up will include names from several Michelin starred restaurants, including Tom Kerridge, Sally Abé, Simon Hulstone and Michel Roux Jr. 

Sustainable Hospitality 2020: Food Made Good with the Sustainable Restaurant Association will include a mix of talks and workshops. Educational sessions will include how to increase local sourcing, improve plant-based menu offerings, tackle food waste and reduce unnecessary plastics.

“Sustainability is at the top of everybody’s agenda at the moment,” says Merritt-Harrison. “In particular the balance between managing food waste and reducing packaging. People are trying to do the right thing only to find out that there’s an even greater environmental cost.”

The Great British Drinks Movement will celebrate the best of British drinks including English wine, whisky, beer, cider and premium soft drinks. As non-alcoholic beverages become more popular, the show will also feature low/no alcohol spirits and fermented drinks.

TV personality and sector expert Jane Parkinson will host Tasting Table sessions, during which attendees will taste a range of different drinks and find out how they are produced.

Tech-X will comprise four 30-minute TED-style talks and presentations each day within the Tech Zone of HRC. Experts and innovators will take to the stage to present new digital products and trailblazing technologies available to improve your hospitality business.

Exciting demonstrations

“We’re really excited to be hosting an incredible programme of more than 100 talks, demos and tastings at this year’s show, that will inspire visitors as they plan for the year ahead,” says Ronda Annesley, HRC event manager.

“Tackling some of the biggest issues impacting the hospitality sector, we’ll be sharing our top tips and insights across sustainability, health and wellbeing, restaurant design, staff retention, delivery and branding.

“To really make the most of the show, we recommend planning which of suppliers you want to meet and booking your places in advance for the Vision and TECHX stages as well as exciting chef demonstrations on The Staff Canteen Live stage.”

Keeping up with the competition

HRC will also play host to a number of competitions and awards over the three-day show:

International Salon Culinaire is one of the UK’s largest and most prestigious competition programmes. More than 100 different competitions will take place in four different categories – Salon Display, Live Theatre, Skills Theatre and Sugarcraft – showcasing the terrific skills and talent within the industry.

The UK Coffee in Good Spirits Championship (UKCiGS) Semi Finals and the UK Brewers Cup Final – Compulsory Round will feature budding bar tenders as well as baristas, as the only competition to use alcohol.

Run by the SCA UK, each competition is designed to demonstrate the talent of entrants while highlighting the expertise involved in producing excellent hand-crafted coffee.

The World Food Innovation Awards is a celebration of innovation and excellence across every category of the global food industry. An established and respected awards scheme, being successfully shortlisted in any of the 28 categories provides a hallmark of success that highlights the contribution your company’s products and team are making to the food industry.

On trend

At the forthcoming show, HRC will also introduce a brand-new feature for 2020, working in collaboration with the FEA (Foodservice Equipment Association) – FEA Trend Trails, which will provide a highlighted guide to the FEA member stands where they can find an innovative solution to their pressing issues.

“The trials focus on the alignment of the latest products, with the needs of operators,” says Keith Warren, chief executive of FEA. “We have ensured that there is clear evidence of the operational benefits that our members’ products offer; this will be a great timesaver when visiting the show”

The Trend Trails focus 15 major ‘operator pains’, including:

1. Sustainability
2. Waste management
3. Overhead and cost reduction
4. Energy management
5. Rising food costs
6. Standards and regulations
7. New and emerging technology
8. Work-flow optimisation
9. Worker productivity
10. Employee retention
11. Working environment
12. Customer service
13. Food quality
14. Food safety
15. Food and flavour trends

Further details:

To take a closer look at the event schedule, speaker list and register for tickets, visit

Liz Cooley

Picture: courtesy of Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA)

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