In a new opinion column on Retail Times, Simon Cotton, founder and development director at leading UK alfresco design and build company, Breezefree, discusses the UK’s flourishing outdoor culture and why bamboo is becoming the timber of choice in alfresco dining
When Thomas Cook, a 32-year old cabinet maker, developed the idea of social excursions in 1841 and, enabled by the recently launched railways, the British acquired a taste for trips and the package holiday was born.
The rise of affordable air travel in more recent decades brought continental holidays within the reach of an ever-increasing demographic. This growth in trips to the Continent not only led to a change in British culinary tastes and a growing awareness of wine culture, but also the emergence of the continental café culture in the UK.
At the same time, aspiring retailers and café operators began to select outdoor furniture and alfresco equipment to reflect their brands, project a quality image and offer a point of differentiation.
With this transformation of attitude, the British public now increasingly seek out alfresco areas in cities, towns and suburbs that reflect the sophisticated ambience of the continent.
Far sighted retailers and operators are recognising they cannot afford to ignore their outdoor spaces or regard them merely as smoking areas. Whether in an urban, coastal or rural setting, a well-designed outdoor area not only significantly increases the number of covers, but also transforms the image and ambience of a venue. By attracting return custom and increasing revenue, the return on investment can be dramatic.
With rising overseas travel costs, the trend to UK-based holidays is set to increase. Retailers and café/alfresco dining operators who’ve not recognised this emerging trend and either refurbished or developed attractive space will miss out.
For over 10 years Breezefree has built a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy alfresco area design and build company.
Working for independent and multiple licensed and hospitality operators, Breezefree facilitates and promotes all-year-round alfresco eating and drinking in the UK.
Many architects and operators credit Breezefree as an originator of continental café culture in the UK, having influenced rural and urban alfresco design since early 2000 with high-profile clients including Carluccio’s, Frankie & Benny’s, JD Wetherspoon and Marstons.
As a UK manufacturer and exporter, we frequently add similarly innovative new products to our range. Following extensive product development and testing we have plans to launch Storm Force resistant Vaulted Pergola Awnings, Louvered Roofs, Tensile Fabric Parasols, Lightless Outdoor Heaters and Heated Tables amongst other products.
Our eight product lines include a variety of Storm Force resistant products as well as highly configurable and unique SmartScreens and static and retractable SailAwnings.
We have recently introduced to the UK exterior grade parasols made from bamboo, which is a strong contender for the world’s most sustainable and durable timber.
The new parasols are made from Bambusa, a genus of the Bamboo family, which is among the world’s fastest growing plants.
We are already facing strong demands from the leisure, retail and hospitality markets for these competitively priced parasols, which are among the greenest parasols on the market today.
Bambusa parasols are far stronger than traditional hardwood parasols. As well as being durable and strong they offer the following benefits:
- Wind tested to Gale Force 9
- Round, square or rectangular sizes up to 13sq m (4m round)
- Fully serviceable, in the event of accidental damage
- Three year no-quibble warranty
Bambusa is one of the world’s fastest growing timbers and has superior sustainability when compared to traditional tropical hardwoods that can take decades longer to mature. Bambusa’s swift growth rate also increases CO2 absorption.
It is harvested annually on managed plantations in South America and, as it achieves complete sustainably in approximately four years, Bambusa provides some of the world’s poorest people with sustainable incomes while discouraging illegal logging, deforestation and the depletion of indigenous eco-systems.
Comprehensive trials have proven the Bambusa design is extremely wind resistant. During 2011-12 Breezefree trialled the range on a farm in Oxford; followed by site trials this winter at The Oast House in Spinningfields, Manchester, where a number of parasols were integrated into the outdoor furniture.
Paul Danson at project specifier, Paul Danson Imagineering, said: “I felt six Bambusa umbrellas would give the Oast House a fun, Alpine chalet twist, as well as reflecting the sustainable nature of the project’s construction. They look great and work very well in this particularly windy location. Breezefree delivered a first class service, with durable products, that perform as promised and at a good price.”
The parasols are available in large variety of fabric colours, which can be personalised with branding, and in the following sizes: 2.5m up to 4m diameter, 2.1m up to 3.4m square and 2 x 3m and 2.5 x 3.5m rectangular.
Breezefree contact details:
Tel: 020 8877 3030
(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)