Following the recent announcement of Boparan Restaurant Group's partnership with Tesco to launch an in-store range of its food items from its Giraffe and Ed's Easy Diner brands, the Casual Dining Group has launched a range of Bella Italia items in the same supermarket.

Competition in the F&B sector means consumers have more choice than ever before and through increasingly non-traditional channels. There is a growing awareness that a retail offering is not a means to supplant the restaurant, but a way to supplement it. Branding restaurant items in the retail sphere can build brand equity, establish brand loyalty and retain brand relevance.

Independent operators stand to benefit from the exposure a retail presence can provide by opening up the brand to a wider consumer base, while established chains can build on their following and generate an additional revenue stream. 

That's not to say that restaurant operators should divert their attention to the retail sector nor attempt to replicate their entire menu in the freezer aisle. Rather, a focus on developing products which go to the heart of the restaurant offering can maximise impact. A particular dish (such as pizza), product (such as sauces) or even line of courses (such as deserts) can offer the consumer a taste of the full in-dining experience available and drive footfall into the restaurant. It remains to be seen now how, and at what pace, other operators follow suit.