AUTHOR: Spencer Playle, Supply Chain Director at Pizza Express

At PizzaExpress, two elements of our overall CSR plan are to reduce our environmental footprint through optimising our print strategy and to allow as many people as possible to have ‘Good Times. Together’ in our restaurants by challenging ourselves to increase accessibility. One area that we have recently focused on is how we manage our menu printing.

One change that we have made from 17th September is to move to unlaminated menus which means they are now all recyclable. This does actually mean we will print more menus, but on balance the trade off is a positive one. At the same time we are also printing our Piccolo menus on our Piccolo packs to avoid needing a separate menu at all for our younger guests – so a print reduction there.

But we also wanted to review what we offered for our blind and visually impaired guests. We have for many years printed braille and large print menus but knew from restaurant feedback that they were very rarely used, and usually just stayed in a drawer until the next campaign, when they were thrown into General Waste. There had to be a better way. As part of investigating possible alternatives, we met with Good Food Talks who we knew had a solution that was already being used by some of our peers. To our surprise, Matt Wadsworth, the Founder of Good Food Talks, outlined to us that only 1% of the visually impaired population can actually read braille – and that App solutions had taken over and been a game changer in this space. Good Food Talks works by hosting restaurant menus on a platform that is optimised for the accessibility features on smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices used by the two million people in the UK with visual impairments. This allows menus to be heard by users using text to speech software and read more easily by those with limited vision. In addition it has functionality to make menus easier to read for the estimated 10 million people with some form of dyslexia. Good Food Talks is and always will be free to access.

We trialed the solution in our restaurants in Langham Place (London) and Leeds Arena, and the feedback was very good. It was therefore an easy decision to roll out this solution to all of our restaurants as part of our September campaign. The on-boarding was very straightforward and we look forward to building on our relationship with Good Food Talks into the future.