Sustainability focus: Sky Ocean Rescue cafe

Welcome to our section of the site which focuses on the sustainable side of retail. It’s exciting times for anyone involved in this area as technology and retailers try to keep up with customers’ demand for all things ethical.  From palm oil to fur farms, fast fashion to single-use plastic, excess packaging to food waste – this is where the real action is.

Lunch without plastic

In a nutshell: The café at Sky Central in Isleworth has just launched and continues Sky’s quest to become a plastic-free business by 2020. The story of its development is a guide on how it is possible to take the consumer on the sustainable journey rather than foisting it on them.

 

On 4th November sports pundit and now thanks to his children anti-plastic fan, Jamie Redknapp, along with a giant whale-shaped cake, launched the Sky Ocean Rescue café in the Sky Central building, part of the vast Sky complex in Isleworth, west London. Sky Central receives 250,000 visits each year and all the visitors and staff using the café will now be able to do so in the knowledge that it has both been designed and functions with no virgin plastic at all.

Jamie Redknapp makes a personal commitment to stop using plastic bags in the pledge area

Fiona Ball, Sky head of inspirational business, told Retail Insider that the main challenge of the project has been to fully take the employees on board as the café developed. The end results are impressive and are the next stage in the goal of being a leading innovator in eradicating single-use plastic and plastic waste in the oceans.

Educating people with potentially upsetting images of marine life trapped in plastic waste as they try to eat lunch is a brave move but the café carefully balances its act. The large screens behind the counter show the effects of human action and are coupled with artwork pillars. These are designed to spark conversation and highlight the five main culprits in discarded plastic. Namely water bottles, coffee cups, plastic bags, straws, and lunch-related plastic such as cling-film and cutlery.

On the more uplifting side there is a solutions area – this promotes the things that Sky Ocean Ventures funds such as alternative packaging, recycled plastic in children’s clothing and apps which allow users to determine if packaging is recyclable or not.

The café serving area features a beautiful ‘coral counter’ which is entirely made from 3D printed salvaged plastic to highlight the damage being done to coral reefs while table sleeves manufactured out of discarded fishing net plastic gives more information on the café and how it was created.

One of the five artwork pillar highlighting pollution’s main culprits

So much for the education, you might ask, but what about the food? Crucially being in such a huge campus set away from any local shops or amenities with 33,000 employees on site a lot of the innovations at the café are put on a captive audience.

For example every Sky employee is given a reusable metal bottle from its own range of celebrity-designed cans. This step alone removed the purchase of 500,000 plastic bottles per annum. “People used to forget their bottles in the beginning and get a bit disgruntled” says Fiona Ball, “but now they get it, it’s become second nature and there are refill stations all over the place”.

Yogurt is no longer served in plastic pots but glass jars – and employees can just leave them at their desks and they will be collected, washed and filled again. No plastic cutlery/crockery is available and items like biscuits and cakes are stored in large glass jars or wooden boxes.

Ball stresses that the café is not fixated on using recycled plastic: “The whole waste infrastructure in the UK is not geared up to recycling plastic. And we don’t even use biodegradable plastic.” The emphasis is more on avoiding it in the first place.  

But again this can lead to problems with consumers such as when some sorts of food was taken out of its cellophane covering and put in other forms of packaging. “There was a slight issue with visibility around what people were buying” she admits, as people do like to see what it is they are purchasing and plastic is very good at that. In the end she believes people need to realise that reducing plastic does not always mean “finding a like-for-like product but finding completely new ways of doing things”.

The coral counter in the Sky Ocean Rescue Café

There is absolutely no doubt that Sky sets a lot of store by its plastic-free status. Entering Sky Central the café takes centre stage along with the other central pillars of Sky’s corporate identity – Sky Cinema and Sky News. It is used as a microcosm for other brands to come and learn from, and for other retailers – for example Waitrose, which has a shop on campus – to trial innovations in. “We’re not asking for big changes” concludes Fiona Ball “but with small simple steps you can take people along with you”.

Read full story

Facing up to technology

One of the few irritating things about pubs is when somebody gets served ahead of you when you know you’ve been waiting longer. On occasion I’ve been so incensed by the injustice I’ve left the premises and taken my business elsewhere.   Therefore when I heard London-based company DataSparQ had developed AI Bar, facial recognition […]

Read full story

Launch of Retail Insider ‘Leisure & Hospitality Benchmark Report 2019’ with Roger Wade, founder of Boxpark, and Charlie McVeigh, founder of Bunker Projects

Retail Insider celebrated the launch of the first ‘Leisure & Hospitality Benchmark Report’ at a dinner with guest speakers Roger Wade, founder of Boxpark, and Charlie McVeigh, founder of Bunker Projects. The report, sponsored by Webloyalty, investigates the leisure & hospitality sector through interviews with an Advisory Panel of some of the key thought-leaders in the […]

Read full story

Movers & Shakers Q&A: Phill Burton, COO, Bloom & Wild

Phill Burton, COO, Bloom & Wild   1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? There is an opportunity to be a truly global flower gifting company which customers love. I think we’ve made a great start in the UK, and latterly France and Germany and our offering has really resonated with customers but there […]

Read full story

Christmas Trends: Hotel Chocolat

At Hotel Chocolat’s recent festive preview the staff transformed its Covent Garden store into Christmas-land before staying behind very, very late to return it to Halloween-land for the next morning. Here’s our pick of the range.   The Advent Calendar For Two Why should only one half of the partnership have all the fun with […]

Read full story

Why they won a Transforming Retail Award 2019: Specsavers

In the hard-fought Best In-Store Experience of the Year category it was Specsavers who won out for its impressive range of services offered in-store. In the optical retail sector, the main challenges that Specsavers identified were the threat from online and a lack of professional resource (Optometrist and Audiologist). To keep people in-store, rather than […]

Read full story

Why they won a Transforming Retail Award 2019: John Lewis/Waitrose

The Best Delivery Innovation category is one that often produces the most interesting entrants as companies find ever more ingenious ways to propel their products in front of consumers. This year’s winner John Lewis/Waitrose was no exception to that as it launched its ‘While You Were Away’ app which sufficiently impressed the judges to ensure […]

Read full story

Digital Retail Innovations Q&A – ShopAppy

Following the launch of the Digital Retail Innovations 2019 Report (sponsored by Webloyalty) a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the entries in the report are being published. Here is a Q&A with Dr Jackie Mulligan, founder of ShopAppy. How did the original idea come about? It came from a few issues including a […]

Read full story

On the market

  Like many towns up and down the country, Doncaster in South Yorkshire has a long relationship with markets, which have been the focal point of the town since its creation. There’s the Corn Exchange indoor market alongside an outdoor equivalent, and a covered food market with fishmongers and butchers well represented.    There’s also […]

Read full story

Why they won a Transforming Retail Award 2019: Entrupy

The winner of the Overall Innovation category in our Transforming Retail Awards was US-based Entrupy – currently working with several UK retailers. Product counterfeiting with its associated brand dilution is a global problem, it displaces billions in legitimate business activity, which then reduces tax revenues and contributes to criminality also exposing consumers to potentially dangerous […]

Read full story

Innovative Retailer: Body Shop

Name : Body Shop    The Place: Oh, everywhere.  But around 250 units in the UK and several thousand more globally. The Story: Is there anyone in the UK who has not, at some point, set foot in the beloved beauty institution that is Body Shop? Ummm: Well, the answer is no. Everyone has been […]

Read full story

Lessons for the High Street: Whiskers & Cream

Welcome to our series of articles on retailers that are operating in ways that provide some interesting and valuable lessons to the wider industry.       Name: Whiskers & Cream Location: Holloway Road, London In a nutshell: Whiskers & Cream is one of only two cat cafes in London. By bringing experience-led retail to […]

Read full story

Retail Insider event with Manju Malhotra, co-COO of Harvey Nichols

Retail Insider held its latest event with guest speaker Manju Malhotra, co-COO of Harvey Nichols, who discussed the plans and thinking at the renowned department store ahead of a wine tasting. Attendees of the event that was set within Harvey Nichols‘ flagship Knightsbridge store included senior executives from Marks & Spencer, Secret Sales, Fortnum & […]

Read full story

Christmas trends: Aldi

The main takeaway theme of Aldi’s Christmas range in 2019 is that more is, well, more but don’t rock the boat with too much new-fangled stuff. This year traditional favourites are super-sized and new products are variations on a theme. Old-fashioned glamour is back with a vengeance whether it is gold-dusted desserts or velvet plush […]

Read full story

Why they won a Transforming Retail Award 2019: McDonald’s Dynamic Yield

Winning out in the ‘Most Intelligent Use of Data’ category (sponsored by Software AG) was McDonald’s for its use of Dynamic Yield technology. In 2019 McDonald’s bought Dynamic-Yield, which provides algorithm-driven ‘decision logic’ technology. It is now moving to fit-out its restaurants with upgraded, Dynamic Yield-powered smart menu capabilities, which will use data to move […]

Read full story

‘Transforming Retail’ Awards 2019 – Winners announced

Senior retail executives gathered at Sourced Market in central London to celebrate the third Retail Insider ‘Transforming Retail Awards’ aimed at highlighting some of the most exciting innovations to happen in the retail sector over the past year. The categories being judged this year by an independent panel of retail experts were: Best Connected Experience, […]

Read full story

Prime seats

Taking a short cruise down the Rhine in Germany this summer involved a rush to grab waterside seats on the open-air upper deck. A similar scenario was played out below, where those eating in the dining room sought tables next to the windows. Nobody wanted to be seated on the inside of the boat. It […]

Read full story

Sustainable Fashion: People Tree

  Welcome to a monthly column within our broader sustainability section which focuses on what fashion is doing to address the issues in its industry brought to you by Retail Insider with Clipper and Give Back Box This month an interview with People Tree managing director Melanie Traub on the challenges and joys of running a sustainable fashion […]

Read full story

Retail Insider event with Jo Jenkins, CEO of White Stuff, and Alex Murray, digital director, Lidl UK

Retail Insider held its latest event with guest speakers Jo Jenkins, CEO of White Stuff, and Alex Murray, digital director of Lidl UK who helped celebrate the launch of the ‘Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100 Report 2019’. Attendees of the event at Bedale’s Wine shop in London’s Smithfield Market included senior executives from […]

Read full story

Movers & Shakers report 2019 launched

Retail Insider has launched the 2019 edition of the Movers and Shakers report highlighting some of the key people in retail that are most effectively using the power of digital to push their organisations forward. Now in its 10th anniversary year, and produced in conjunction with sponsors K3, the panel of judges have chosen their pick of the most significant […]

Read full story