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Working with Caffè Nero: Bespoke Food Tiles

Caffè Nero food tiles

The brief

Late last year, we were contacted by Kelley Webber, Head of Refurbishment at Caffè Nero, after we were recommended to her by a colleague of hers who used to work at Wagamama. We have previously supplied Wagamama with crockery via Lockhart.

Caffè Nero was looking for food-safe tiles for their new cake displays. The chain cafe was trying to achieve an industrial look and needed tile inserts for their new stands which would be made from steel with exposed weld marks.

Tiles aren’t part of our standard range, and therefore, this project required bespoke moulds and designs to be made. Bespoke orders aren’t something we shy away from at Surrey Ceramics, so we were more than happy to accept the challenge. We’ve previously completed other bespoke projects for clients, including Sushi Samba, which you can read about here.

The order was substantial. Caffè Nero needed a few thousand tiles to cater for more than 600 of their stores across the UK. But we’re used to accommodating such large orders. Having worked with the likes of Bella Italia and Nandos, we were confident we could achieve this by their May deadline.

Caffe Nero Food Tiles

The process

Kelley visited us on the 23rd October 2018 to discuss requirements so we could get a feel for what she was looking for. She had bought with her a patterned tile which had inspired the whole idea, and which would inspire at least some of the tile inserts for Caffè Nero’s new industrial looking stands.

The result of our initial meeting and Kelley’s further discussions with her team lead to us producing a range of bespoke tile samples (190mm x 190mm) in glazes Granite, Green Verdigris, and Denim, which also included the hand-imprinted pattern. We had completed this by the 1st November; just nine days after the initial meeting.

It was decided that the rougher textures of Green Verdigris and Denim weren’t suitable for the purpose, so based on our recommendations, these were swapped for the smoother glazes of Delhi Black and Jasper.

The final order – 6,590 bespoke food-safe tiles; half patterned in the glaze Granite and the other half plain, in glazes Granite, Delhi Black, and Jasper.

*Subsequently, later in the process, Kelley had decided that the Jasper and Delhi black glazes also weren’t right for the project. Instead, it was decided that the remaining tiles in these glazes would be finished in JO white. At Surrey Ceramics, we work on an as-needed basis, so changing the finish last minute did not prove to be a problem.

The first batch of tiles was needed for the pilot store, which would be going live on the 21st November. The short deadline meant that we couldn’t get the bespoke pattern moulds set up in time, so we made the 16 tiles needed by hand to ensure we could fulfil the order.

The next deadline was the 20th of December, where 80 more stores would need tiles. In total, that meant we had to create 360 tiles to meet the requirement, which we were delighted to achieve.

Our final deadline was the 6th May 2019, where we needed to produce an additional 1,342 tiles per month between February and May – 5,368 tiles in total. Tricky timescales are something we aren’t afraid to work with and as a result, we didn’t miss a deadline and were even early on two orders.

Caffe Nero Food Tile

The results

  • Bespoke tiles designed and made to specification
  • Meeting and exceeding every deadline set
  • Over 6,590 tiles in Granite, Delhi Black, Jasper, and JO White glazes were produced
  • The client would be happy to work with Surrey Ceramics again in the future

Caffe Nero Food Tiles

What Caffè Nero had to say about working with Surrey Ceramics…

“Surrey Ceramics were highly recommended to us by another business, and they lived up to their reputation. Taking on a rather sketchy brief, they have developed exactly the right product for us. They are now supplying over 600 stores with this product, and it’s working very well. They are all a pleasure to work with; they are flexible, fun and efficient – and they’ve hit every difficult deadline we have set them!”Kelley Webber, Head of Refurbishment, Caffé Nero

Working with Surrey Ceramics

Interested in exploring new tableware options for your restaurant, hotel or cafe? Why not book a visit to our showroom to browse our extensive range of products and glazes. Alternatively, browse our products and glazes online to get an idea the types of crockery we could produce for your establishment.

Feeling inspired? Let's chat about your ideas - Call us now on 01428 604 404