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Melding millennial tech demands with a fresh approach to QSR: Leon restaurants

How the British brand has responded to changing customer expectations, from its healthy menu offering through to the new tech allowing guests to place their orders.

May 18, 2022
 ·  6 minutes
Melding millennial tech demands with a fresh approach to QSR: Leon restaurants

The year was 2004, and Leon’s would-be co-founders John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby were finding themselves frustrated by the greasy fast food options available throughout the work day. This frustration became the impetus to reinvent fast food with a concept that not only provides delicious, healthy options, but is kind to the planet as well.

In the 18 years since, Leon has grown to include 70 restaurants across the UK and Europe. It remains true to its founding principles: To make fast food good food while ensuring a positive impact on the planet and its people. The brand has sustainability at its core; boasting the first carbon neutral burger in the UK, an ethical supply chain, and a lot of plant-based food options.

Ultimately, Leon wants to empower its guests to do good by choosing better food options, consuming fair trade products, and supporting its charity partnerBags of Taste.

Data-backed and sustainable scaling

Leon wants to ensure everyone has access to good, naturally fast food, championing the heatlhy alternative despite the prominence of the fast food incumbents. To achieve this, it is rapidly expanding; with 40 new restaurants in the UK and ten in the Netherlands. But how best to ensure this scale is achieved both efficiently and sustainably? Leon went digital - and saw the need for strong technology partners. Digital Executive Hugo Engel was hired to oversee the company’s digital transformation, a key step to maintaining its rapid growth.

A big part of this transformation was digitizing the ordering process so that guests could order via an in-store kiosk or with their phone using the Leon app.

Another element of the business he would focus on was understanding guest movement across different restaurants and sales channels: “We'd have hundreds of thousands of guests coming through our restaurants and no idea who they were,” he notes. “We had no way of tracking whether they'd ever been to Leon before and, if they had, how many times. When we open a new store, are we constantly attracting new guests? Or are we building a new base of regular customers?”

“More than ever, having good data, insights on our customer shopping habits and demographics is really crucial to the business. So we needed partners that could help us connect the dots.”

And finally, to support Leon’s mission to make a positive impact, it wanted a solution that would make it simple for guests to donate to its chosen cause, Bags of Taste. 

A powerful QSR partner collaboration

In order to respond to the digital demands of modern customers, Leon partnered with Vita Mojo, a technology provider that helps restaurants go digital.

“Vita Mojo is an extremely close partner of Leon,” said Hugo. “We started working with them when I joined two and a half years ago and we were looking for a digital ordering partner. Through our partnership, Vita Mojo has created large screen kiosks and a mobile app. So you can download our Leon Club app on your phone and order Leon or pre-order from any of our restaurants.”

It was Vita Mojo that introduced Leon to Adyen when they wanted to bring payments into the customer experience. For Vita Mojo co-founder and CEO Nick Popovici, Adyen was the logical choice: “We partnered with Adyen because it offers secure, reliable technology. No matter what channel people are buying; whether it's on mobile, on the kiosk or on ecommerce - Adyen can deal with all of it. And the magic of Adyen being omnichannel, (unlike a fragmented payment solution)is all the data you get. No matter where the customer shops, our partnership with Adyen lets us provide a 360-degree view back to Leon.”

"Within a week, thanks to Adyen’s shopper tokenization, we were able to see whether guests had visited the restaurant before and, if so, how many times."

Giving, Adyen’s donation solution, was implemented so guests can choose to donate to Bags of Taste at checkout.  was implemented so guests can choose to donate to Bags of Taste directly from the payment terminal.

“We want to make it easy for guests to do good in the world,” said Hugo. “And I think that's one of the advantages of Giving is that it's literally there on the payment terminal and you can just simply tap on the amount you want to choose and touch your card again to donate. All that money then goes directly to the charity's account and Adyen absorbs the processing fee. Literally 100% of your donation goes to the charity, which is very unusual. Now, we’re also responding to the crisis in Ukraine, using Giving to also enable our guests to donate to a charity which is helping refugees.”

Digital processes pay off, big time

The company is seeing clear results. “Digital ordering has delivered significantly higher satisfaction, higher spend, and higher frequency of visits,” says Nick. “This has prompted Leon to review its entire operating model to be digital-first.”

Now, Leon has a much better, data-backed view of its customers. As Hugo explained: “Within a week, thanks to Adyen’s shopper tokenization, we were able to see whether guests had visited the restaurant before and, if so, how many times. On a business level, we can see what percentage of our guests are new, what percentage are returning, and what our order frequency is. Those are really crucial insights, especially in such a dynamically changing landscape like hospitality.”

And finally, Giving is making a real, tangible impact for Bags of Taste, generating almost €18,000 in revenue since February 2021.

A shared focus on powerful technology

As Leon continues to bring good fast food to people in more locations, Adyen and Vita Mojo look forward to supporting the brand. For Leon, it’s hugely valuable that all three partners are so aligned in terms of ethos and vision.

Hugo points toward a shared goal of constant and uninterrupted innovation across the three companies in partnership. “At Leon, we want to disrupt the fast food space, Adyen the payment space, and Vita Mojo the hospitality industry.” We all have this shared mission of wanting to come up with innovative ways to improve the guest experience. Ultimately, this enables us to give guests the experience they want while fulfilling our values and purpose as a business.”

“Leon, Adyen, and Vita Mojo all want to disrupt the spaces that we're in."

Hugo Engel

Vita Mojo’s Nick is similarly enthused by the prospect of a bolder and more technology-driven hospitality future. “What really excites me about the partnership with Adyen is just how much is coming in the pipeline,” he says. “The sheer amount of innovation and products that are going to be launched in the coming period is really exciting. We're on this big journey where hospitality businesses are going from offline to online. They’re transforming their customer experiences and there's going to be growing reliance on technology partners. So I'm really excited for what’s in store.”

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