Creating innovative experiences around food that will surprise and delight customers is something Bruce Langlands, Board Director of Food & Restaurants at Selfridges, is particularly well versed in. Having began his career at M&S where he stayed for nearly 18 years, he then moved to Superquinn before taking on the role of Director of Foods at Harrods and since September 2016, Bruce has been at the helm of Food & Hospitality at Selfridges. Here, he tells us what attracted him to a partnership with The Wolseley Collection, his particular penchant for shortbread and what he’s looking forward to this Christmas.
Tell us a little about what your job at Selfridges involves and what aspects of it do you enjoy the most?
I’ve been the Director of Food and Restaurants with Selfridges for over two years now, and every single day is different. To work for such a visionary and fast-paced company is a real honour. It means that good ideas actually come to life – whether that’s products or restaurants. We are currently working on opening our largest restaurant which will open in November. It has been a key project for my team and I since I started in September 2016. We hope that it will be truly spectacular.
During your time in the retail industry, what have you seen change and is innovation key to staying ahead of the game?
What’s changed is customers’ expectations and retailers and restaurateurs need to evolve in order to meet those expectations. For me that means creating innovative experiences around food that will surprise and delight, giving customers a new discovery every time they enter the store.
What attracted you to The Wolseley Collection and why were you particularly excited about the partnership?
The Wolseley has one of those reputations that is simply impossible to manufacture; it’s a British institution with an exotic European sensibility; the menu is accessible but the quality of each dish is unsurpassable; it’s a grand café with the personal service of a 5-star boutique hotel. The values of the brand chime so well with Selfridges, and the product range reflects our combined energy and sophistication. The collection provides the perfect gift for Christmas.
What are your favourite products from the line and why?
Being from Edinburgh, I’ve a bit of a thing for shortbread, and I can report that The Wolseley shortbread is as good (alright better) as any I’ve tasted in Scotland. (Please don’t tell my mother!) I’ve seen a lot of salted caramel recently, but the Salted Caramel Florentines are a truly inspired twist on a classic.
Do you have a favourite memory/experience from when you’ve been to The Wolseley in the past?
There are a couple of tables on balconies that overlook the entire floor. It’s an amazing view, and you can get a sense of what the building looked like when it was a bank, and before that a car show room – back in 1921. Last year, a friend was visiting from Hong Kong and we went to The Wolseley for lunch with my parents. It was one of those days when the sun was pouring through the windows – a perfect Sunday afternoon of great food, great company in a unique environment.
Thinking ahead to the holidays, are you still seeing a growth in hamper gifting at Christmas time? If so, why do you think that is?
Lots of brands do Christmas hampers now, but Selfridges has a reputation for creating something really special for the festive season. We carefully edit each one so that the flavours complement each other.
What do you find particularly appealing about The Wolseley’s hamper collection?
It’s a very good looking collection, inspired by the interior of The Wolseley – using the black and white floor design as a motif throughout. But more than what’s on the outside – the range of products in the hampers is well thought out. The artisan preserves, loose leaf teas, truffles and shortbreads will turn a Christmas celebration into a festive feast.
And finally, is there anything you’re personally looking forward to over the Christmas period this year?
Spending quality time with family, my nephews and my friends, and of course putting on a huge feast for them all – that’s what my Christmas is all about.
“The collection provides the perfect gift for Christmas”