While Nando’s is only just introducing its cut down format, other brands have experimented with similar forays into the quick-serve arena, many of which have failed to gain recognition and grow, due to a lack of focus.

Recent examples of failed attempts include Carluccio’s, Toby Carvery Express and TGI Fast Track, which were in many ways unsuccessful at adapting their key offerings and image for the quick-serve, grab’n’go crowd. TGI Fast Track, for instance, chose to focus on burgers and beer, a risky move given the saturated state of the market. The format therefore failed to grab the attention of consumers, who could easily mistake the outlets for standard TGI Fridays branches in locations where specialized, quick-service burger joints were already plentiful.

In the US, however, Buffalo Wild Wings enjoyed more success with a similar concept. Last year, the chain opened two new “B-Dubs Express” outlets, which are counter versions of the brand’s traditional wings-focused casual dining restaurants. While this started with a limited, two outlet footprint, a third outlet is scheduled to open later this year in Minneapolis, and is set to benefit from a self-serve beer wall. This highlights a key point of differentiation from QSR for these cut-down casual dining operators, which routinely offer a selection of alcoholic beverages and typically focus on key Millennial demographics, as highlighted by the prevalence of craft beers and ciders on their menus.

Alongside the surge in popularity of grab’n’go formats is the surge in delivery, which continues to go from strength to strength. Much like Buffalo Wild Wings’ B-Dubs Express, Nino’s streamlined menu and smaller seating area should enable the branches to better focus on consumers’ growing appetite for delivery, without the large overheads associated with larger outlets. Similarly, as these restaurants offer alcohol on their menus, they typically also offer delivery of alcohol through services such as Deliveroo, thus further broadening their appeal. GlobalData forecasts delivery in full-service and quick-service restaurants in the UK to see growth at a CAGR of 3.8% until 2021, compared to 3.1% in dine-in, highlighting the improved returns achievable in delivery when compared with traditional OOH occasions.

As a result, it is likely that brands will continue to experiment with streamlined formats, which can help them capture a greater share of the growing delivery market, and better adapt to modern foodservice consumers’ constantly evolving needs and demands. In fact, with express varieties of Five Guys Burgers and Fries expected, as well as smaller players like Moose entering the express market, more familiar brands will try to benefit from these smaller formats in 2018. However, any brand looking to make the move into express should consider the mistakes made by their predecessors, and ensure that their new brand is sufficiently identifiable to attract a customer base of its own.