Casual Dining goes big with keynote announcement for 2020

Three of the biggest names in casual dining: James Spragg and Steve Holmes, the CEOs of Casual Dining Group (CDG) and Azzurri Group respectively, and David Campbell, executive chairman at Bill’s Restaurants – are on the Keynote menu at Casual Dining 2020.

The A-list speaker line-up for next year’s show (25-26 March, ExCeL London) also includes Amber Wood, MD of The Cosy Club at Loungers; Baton Berisha, MD of The Ivy Collection; Laura Harper Hinton, owner and creative director of Caravan Restaurants (and investor on the BBC’s My Million Pound Menu); Andrew and Prannee Laurillard, founders of Thai chain Giggling Squid; and Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality.   

Ex-wagamama boss David Campbell, who was appointed executive chairman at Bill’s Restaurants last summer, says he’s looking forward to speaking at the Casual Dining show. In his opening day Keynote interview, he’ll be focusing on the reimagining of Bill’s, where almost half of the estate has already been extensively refurbished, plus talking about the new openings that are now happening.

“We’re delighted to announce our first wave of speakers for Casual Dining 2020,” enthuses event manager Eva Ellis. “While we can certainly promise plenty more big name announcements over the coming weeks, it doesn’t get much bigger than CDG, Azzurri Group, Bill’s, The Ivy Collection, and Loungers – who operate some of the UK’s most well-known casual dining restaurant brands – speaking exclusively at their industry show.

“This is a fantastic starting line-up to open our show registration and kick off the 2020 marketing campaign.  And, if that’s not irresistible enough, visitors also benefit from two action-packed days of product launches, demos and tastings from over 220 leading casual dining suppliers showcasing everything from ingredients to food and drink, from kitchen kit and front of house, to payment solutions and catering tech,” she says.  

Show features and highlights include 50+ speakers appearing in 25 free business seminars across two dedicated keynote theatres (both sponsored by Yumpingo), The Vineyard (new for 2020), The Taphouse (formerly the Craft Beer & Cider Zone), Artisan Spirits Lounge, and the Innovation Challenge Awards.

Exciting times for Casual Dining Group’s new CEO

Before becoming CEO of Casual Dining Group earlier this year, James Spragg was chief operating officer overseeing the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo restaurant portfolio.

When he last spoke at the show, he outlined CDG’s strategies for keeping its core brands fresh and relevant and made headlines with the launch of ‘virtual’ delivery brand Stack & Grill from Café Rouge’s kitchens. This time around as CEO, his opening day keynote is expected to include an update on their delivery and digital strategy, plus insights into some of the ‘new initiatives and growth opportunities’ that CDG has planned for its 280+ restaurants (including the Las Iguanas and La Tasca brands).

Azzurri Group – Casual Dining Group of the year shares its success stories

Five years since he headlined Casual Dining’s second edition in 2015, Steve Holmes, CEO of the Azzurri Group (which won Casual Dining Group of the Year at the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards in 2019), will be back to share his thoughts on the trends and issues shaping the casual dining industry.

Home to over 300 restaurants, including ASK Italian, Zizzi, Coco di Mama and Radio Alice pizzerias (plus, more recently, pod food), many of its brands have been high street favourites for decades. 

Under Mr Holmes’ leadership, the Azzurri Group’s continued focus on reviewing, refining and evolving its customer proposition helped deliver like-for-like growth in 2018 – despite (what he called) the ‘challenging environment faced by the UK casual dining market’. It currently employs over 6,500 staff, serves over 21 million meals annually, and is set for further expansion.  He’ll be discussing all that and more in his highly-anticipated Keynote interview at the show.

220 exhibitors for 2020
2019 was a big year for Casual Dining in many ways.  Its first year at ExCeL (and sixth edition overall) saw attendance hit 5,038 and led to a record number of exhibitors rebooking onsite. Fast forward nine months and it’s well on track to sell out of exhibition space ahead of the new March dates (25-26 March).

The ever-growing exhibitor list covers everything casual dining operators need to run their businesses successfully. Among the returning exhibitors are AAK Foodservice, Ascentia FSE, Billington Foodservice, Britvic, Carlsberg UK, Coca-Cola European Partners, Diageo, Fentimans, Futura Foods UK, Givex, Harri, JJ Foodservice, Kobas, Lavazza, Lutosa, Major International, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Moving Mountains, Panasonic UK, Peka Kroef, Pizza Equipment, Tevalis, The Meatless Farm Co, and UCC Coffee.

Joining them are new names (to the show) like Cadbury, The Vegetarian Butcher, Kepak Convenience Foods, GCL Food Ingredients, Fourth, Canopies UK, Sodiaal, Design & Create Solutions, MIKADO Foods, Pathos Continental Foods, and Love Joes.

The initial exhibitor list will be available online next month.

Show registration now open

Over 5,000 attendees – from multi-site restaurants, pub and bar groups, to hotels, contract caterers and the nation’s best independents – will be out in force at Casual Dining next March.

The show’s prestigious visitor list annually includes the top buyers and brands from across the casual dining sector, including Admiral Taverns, Aramark, Azzurri Group, BaxterStorey, Benugo, Bill’s Restaurants, BrewDog, Carluccio’s, Casual Dining Group, CH&Co Group, Charles Wells, Center Parcs, Côte Restaurants, Daniel Thwaites, Dishoom, Domino’s Pizza Group, DoubleTree By Hilton, Ei Group, Elior UK, Flat Iron, Fuller’s, Greene King, Hall & Woodhouse, Hard Rock Café, Harvester, ISS UK, Loungers, Marston’s, Mitchells & Butlers, Nando’s, National Trust, NWTC, Oakman Inns, Papa John’s, PizzaExpress, Pizza Hut Restaurants UK, Pizza Pilgrims, Prezzo, Punch Taverns, Revolution Bars Group, Shepherd Neame, Sodexo, SSP, Stonegate Pub Company, TGI Fridays, The Restaurant Group, wagamama, YO! Sushi, Young’s, and more.

Summing up his show experience (as a speaker and visitor), Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Company (NWTC), says: “Casual Dining at ExCeL is the premium sector show, bringing together fantastic debate, content and innovation.”

“Casual Dining 2019 provided a great opportunity to engage with innovative new suppliers, network with existing contacts and listen to some informative keynote speakers. It’s a great event and one I look forward to returning to in 2020,” says Mark Carter, head of drinks category management at Marston’s Pubs & Bars.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Casual Dining at ExCeL this year – great show.  I’m sure 2020 will be even better! See you there,” says Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom.

Casual Dining returns to ExCeL London on 25-26 March 2020.  For further information, please visit and use priority code CD10 (direct link: