Micro Markets up for discussion at AVEX

The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) has recently announced one of its speakers at AVEX 2017.

John Chidiac, president of 365 International, will speak on the subject of the Micro Market industry, including the reasons why they are so popular in the US and why they continue to grow at such a fast pace. This is a hot topic of discussion for the vending industry and one that is sure to attract a lot of interest amongst visitors and exhibitors.

John will also discuss how Micro Markets are perceived by consumers and operators, sharing the positive financial impact on operators and explaining features and functionalities of the trend. As part of his talk, John will also conclude with a vision of the future for the market and new products and services to satisfy demand.

The AVEX exhibition will be held at the NEC, Birmingham on 12th-13th September 2017.

Queen’s Birthday Honours for Scottish businessman

Alastair Storey was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Alastair is Chairman and CEO of Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), which he founded in 2000.

Storey joined P&O’s Sutcliffe Catering Services as a trainee manager in 1975, rising to managing director of Sutcliffe Catering South East. In 1993, Granada bought Sutcliffe, and then Forte in 1996, and Storey became managing director of the newly formed Granada Food Services division.

In 2000, he formed Wilson Storey with Keith Wilson, his former finance director, and after further mergers and acquisitions, Wilson Storey Halliday merged with BaxterSmith to become BaxterStorey in 2004.

WSH owns BaxterStorey, Portico, Caterlink, Holroyd Howe, Benugo and Searcys, and its headquarters, WSH International Investments Limited, is in Reading, Berkshire

Another big step for European vending giant

N&W Global Vending said it has acquired Italy’s Ducale Macchine da Caffé di Sandei Ugo & C.s.n.c., “to strengthen its competitive position in the coffee vending machine category”.

Ducale has been manufacturing equipment for the hospitality industry since the mid-1950s as a manufacturer of coffee machines for bars and restaurants, Its move into vending began in the 1960s with coffee machines and progressed into other full-line categories. N&W Global Vending is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of full-line vending machines.

The European vending giant has been owned by Dallas-based Lone Star Funds since April 2016. Subsequently, N&W has been rolling up coffee vending machine manufacturers, beginning last year with Italy’s Saeco Vending and most recently, they acquired a controlling stake in Canada’s Cafection Enterprises, signaling an aggressive move into the North American vending and OCS markets.


AI turns Lisa into Vicki

ViaTouch Media’s “smart-shelf” vending machine arrived in the States back in April called “Lisa”.  But not for long, as it’s now been renamed “Vicki”.  So what is “Vicki”?

Vicki stands for ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions – wow!  The high-tech vender is equipped with smart shelves that “know” which products customers take, and also if they put any back. The items they retrieve appear on the machine’s display, along with corresponding prices. Customers are charged for their merchandise after the door closes.

Rather like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant Alexa, Vicki can personally greet patrons; they can ask her questions, and she can answer them. If a customer asks Vicki which snacks in the machine are gluten-free or organic, for example, she will tell them. In addition, through visual AI, Vicki can turn off the lights for all products that don’t meet the requirement.

The virtual assistant can also suggest special offers and alert shoppers to promotions and the company say she can “cozy up to customers on a more personal level” by tying into their social media platforms.

Vicki can ask patrons for feedback on the products they select and those they put back. During the process, the machine can collect and analyse data about how they shop, and share it with brands and retailers. The machine features directional speakers, so only the person standing in front of it hears the sounds. Also new, since the machine’s first rendition as Lisa, is the addition of eye-scanning technology as an option for patrons to open the machine’s door by authorising payment, along with thumbprint biometrics, their smartphones or credit cards. Another new feature has blind patrons in mind: a product the customer selects vibrates, as a way to guide them to it.

That’s one smart vending machine.

Brydon returns to Bartlett Mitchell

One of the UK’s leading independent caterers, Bartlett Mitchell, has announced the re-appointment of Angus Brydon as Operations Director.  Brydon rejoins the company after a three year term at Elior.

Reporting to Francois Gautreaux, the operational managing director, Brydon becomes one of three operations directors at Bartlett Mitchell, joining Antony Prentice and Heather Day.

Gautreaux said: “We are delighted that Angus has returned to the Bartlett Mitchell family. We are exceptionally proud to have three operations directors who truly understand our values from the ground up having been with us for many years.

“As a business, the training and development of our teams is a priority so we are truly thrilled to be able to support and facilitate the next step in Angus’s career.”

Seen but not heard…

A new coffee and espresso machine has been described as the ‘most silent coffee machine’ for the workplace by its manufacturers, Macchia Valley.

The “Nevis” has two bean holders each with a capacity of 1kg and a 4 litre water tank contained in a sleek design made from stainless steel and features a colour touchscreen interface.

The machine would be most welcome in an office or meeting room where a noisy machine would be distracting.  The company’s sales director, Chris Rapp said: “We have found smart ways to bumper and cover internally the grinding motors, as we feel that today in the 21st century there’s no need for a loud coffee machine in the workplace.”

Hear, hear!

Digital checkouts

A new type of “digital checkout” is available in the States which is an all-in-one kiosk that allows customers to order and pay for freshly prepared foods in advance, either through a website, app or in person at the kiosk, and pick them up minutes later.

A cashier can man it during peak hours, or it can stand alone as a self-service kiosk during off-peak times. Five models are available, designed to fit differing location needs, and each is integrated with all-in-one software that eliminates the need for separate programs to track inventory and sales.

The company predicts Digital Checkouts will do for corporate cafes what micromarkets did for vending.

New coffee chain coming to Britain

Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, has announced its arrival in the UK when it opens its restaurant on Argyle Street in central Glasgow, on 2nd June – we are the first European country to open its doors to the brand.

Although Tim Hortons is virtually part of the fabric of Canada’s culture and found almost everywhere throughout the country, the Glasgow location will be the first to open in Britain, before the company hope to take the brand nationwide over the next 12 months.

Tim Hortons was founded by its namesake, a famous professional ice hockey player.

The restaurants will offer an extensive menu of drinks including its signature brewed coffee and the brand’s classic frozen Iced Capp, freshly prepared baked goods, and breakfast and lunch items.




Caffé Culture Show 2017

The Thirst Link team will be amongst the crowds at the Caffé Culture Show at Olympia, London starting tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd May.

The show is widely recognised for its excellent on-site talks programmes and has long been at the forefront of the rapidly changing coffee industry, providing insights and information for its visitors annually.

This year the organisers are launching the Technology Showcase where exhibitors will try and catch the eye of the key industry buyers with new coffee machines and technology, or a new app or piece of kit vital for today’s cafes and coffee shops.

Also new to the show are the Caffé Connections debating arenas. The panels will comprise a mixture of high-profile industry speakers from the coffee and food to go sectors – an excellent opportunity for conversation and catch up with key business figures.


From Ferraris to bananas

Back in 2016, an entire building in Singapore became one giant luxury car “vending machine”. It is a car showroom with a difference created by Autobahn Motors and houses 60 exotic, vintage and supercars which buyers can browse on a tablet on the ground floor before an automated retrieval system brings your choice down. Strictly speaking, this is not the world’s first car vending machine (the US had them first!) but the Ferraris and Lamborghinis on offer almost certainly makes it the most luxurious.

In total contrast, a tiny machine on Tokyo’s Shibuya subway station will dispense single bananas or, if you are feeling peckish, in a bunch. Needless to say, it would be cheaper to buy the bananas from a store as each banana costs £1.20 but I suppose it depends on how desperate your need is to buy that healthy snack at that particular moment.  As you would expect, there are special bins provided for the banana peel afterwards….