Interview: KFC creative design manager Jade Swaby on smaller urban branches

Retail Design World KFC Interview

Fast food chain KFC has rethought the customer journey in its new urban format restaurant, introducing new communication techniques to bring faster service with a better experience, says the brand’s creative design manager Jade Swaby.

The new format is currently on trial in Newcastle’s Northumberland Street. Bringing the brand back to the high street – as opposed to the often seen branches that customers generally visit by car – the Newcastle store has a smaller format and relatively few seats, bolstered by an extended menu that offers choices such as burritos and rice boxes.

The format has been developed jointly by KFC’s in-house team and by consultancy I-AM, which has worked for the brand for some time.

“It caters to more of a grab and go consumer,” says Swaby. “There is a lot of passing traffic. There are a few seated benches, but more high tables and breakfast bar-type stools.” It isn’t just how customers eat that has changed, but how they choose what to order. “That’s where we have really considered the customer journey,” says Swaby.
Menu boards have been moved forward, so customers can see them more easily while queuing. There is also a mix of signage. Full digital menu boards can be updated easily and cheaply, but so can simple hook-on boards that customers pass on their way into the store. Graphics and materials have changed too, while remaining recognisably KFC-like. Plywood wall panels and wire chicken sculptures add a touch of urban grittiness and suit the city demographic.

The Newcastle store benefits from a high student population, which has responded positively to the new format. “It is a format you will see more and more as we expand towards 2020,” says Swaby.

Jade Swaby will be speaking at Retail Design Expo 2017

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