A recent report by data analysts CGA and Alix Partners revealed that 15 restaurants are closing every week in the UK. This stat comes as no surprise to anyone in the restaurant trade as we’ve all watched the likes of Byron Burger, Strada, Prezzo, Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and Gaucho close restaurants. A mix of economic and political factors such as rising costs, reduced footfall, rapid over expansion, and uncertainty surrounding Brexit have all contributed to a 2.4% overall decline of group restaurants on Britain’s high streets according to the report.
With the outlook on the UK high street so challenging, a growing number of restaurant chains are expanding into overseas markets as a valuable source of growth. Among these are healthy fast food chain Leon, which as 20 sites in the pipeline for the Irish Republic alone with more restaurants planned for Switzerland and the US. The chairman and CEO of D&D London were also quoted in the hospitality press recently saying a ‘poorly managed Brexit’ would lead them to focus on EU and US growth, instead of investing at home. The restaurant chain currently has 90% of its business in the UK.
Higher digital expectations
When venturing overseas it is essential that IT leaders and heads of transformation get their digital strategies right from the outset as mistakes can be costly to correct. It is also important to remember that underinvestment in digital networks can stifle fledgling expansion as consumers in many overseas markets have higher expectations when it comes to in-store digital experiences, compared to their UK counterparts. This means a weak go-to-market offering could spell disaster. This is where SD Wan can provide a compelling solution to the challenges of replicating the great on-site connectivity you enjoy in the UK, at new overseas sites.
When compared to MPLS, SD Wan can be quick and relatively straightforward to set up overseas as it only requires an on-site internet connection. It also limits capital and ongoing expenditure thanks to the use of cloud connectivity. This means that a new overseas network can be managed from any remote location with an internet connection – including a head office back in the UK.
If a business is growing as a result of a merger or acquisition, SD Wan can also help deliver simplified network integration. If, on the other hand, a new site in on a greenfield location, establishing a SD Wan network is just as fast and cost effective.
Granular network security
One of the great benefits of SD Wan is the level of granular security options it delivers at a time when organisations are possibly focused on expanding within budget, with security considerations enjoying less attention. In the SD Wan architecture, a company benefits from end-to-end encryption across the entire network, including the internet. All devices and endpoints are completely authenticated, thanks to a scalable key-exchange functionality and software-defined security. SD Wan can also integrate security, policy, and orchestration.
There are limitations to SD Wan, however, especially for businesses considering using it in the UK. For example, SD Wan is not currently cheaper to use in the UK so it isn’t a realistic replacement for MPLS. There may also still be a need to spend on MPLS or dedicated firewall security.
At a time when restaurant businesses are looking to expand overseas to capitalise on growth potential, SD Wan offers a great way to replicate and improve upon the on-premise digital networks enjoyed in the UK. This connectivity can be achieved quickly, cost-effectively and in a relatively straightforward way, leveraging digital networks so that they become a compelling commercial opportunity rather than a burden.