Entrepreneur Vincent Mckevitt launched Tossed straight from university in 2005 with zero business experience. Having already opened 25 stores in the UK, the company has since expanded into the UAE and has ambitious plans for growth. BQ found out how he made it happen...
Graduating from the University of the West of England with a first class honours in business administration and management, Vincent Mckevitt knew he wanted to put what he had learned to the test and become his own boss.
Armed with a handful of cook books and a desire to launch the sort of healthy eating place that suited his own healthy lifestyle, this led to Vincent biting the bullet and opening the first Tossed eatery in Paddington back in April 2005.
11 years down the line, the company which started as a single outlet at Sheldon Square now employs 300 people across its 25 UK stores and two in the UAE, and has ambitious plans for growth.
“We have 27 stores in total including six Welcome Breaks, two in the UAE and the rest in London,” Mckevitt told BQ.
“We have a number of other sites in London and the UK planned over the next 12 months and also Dubai number three opening next month on the Jumeriah Golden Mile.
“The brand has been received fantastically well in the UAE so far. There are lots of expats there and we were surprised at how many people already knew the brand.”
One of Mckevitt’s greatest successes to date was the launch of Tossed in the UAE helping kick-start its plans for international expansion.
He said: "We were introduced to the Dubai franchisee as they were looking for a genuinely healthy offering to take out there and eventually chose Tossed from a list of options.
“We have a retained agent vetting international opportunities, and agreed with them that the franchise partner in Dubai was a great fit for what we were trying to achieve with what is hopefully the first of many international ventures."
The move did not come without challenges however, and Mckevitt knew that operating in a different country would cause some minor problems.
Speaking about the challenges that came with the move, he went on to say: “The main challenge was around supply chain.
“We have strict quality and sourcing requirements and we needed to ensure that we could get the same quality ingredients there that we could here.
“Opening up in other geographic’s always presents new challenges, but we are a dynamic company and we adapt easily.
“One quite funny challenge was actually the height of the workforce. Being mainly from the Phillipines, their average height is a lot lower than the work force in the UK so some of the standard counters we make were too high.”
But the height of the work force isn’t the only challenge facing Vincent. As technology advances, companies of all shapes and sizes are having to adapt to the world around them and Tossed is no different. Luckily, he has a plan.
“We have been investing a lot in technology and recently opened the UK’s first cashless food outlet,” said Mckevitt.
“Guests order and pay on iPad tablets. We are rolling this out across the estate as it allows us to focus on making the yummy healthy food and to serve our guests faster.
“Using this technology opens up a lot of new opportunities for us in terms of store size and location.
“We want to take healthier eating to the rest of the UK and not just London and continue to try to be the best at what we do (bespoke healthy food made to order) and have some fun while doing it!”
Having penned his own entrepreneurial success story, we asked Mckevitt what advice he would give to aspiring business owners wanting to start writing their own.
“JFDI – Just Do It. A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs talk about setting up a business, but never do it,” he said.
“A lot of my friends from university wanted to set up a business, but then chose to go and work in the city for a few years to get some experience first.
“In reality, life takes over, mortgages, relationships, your salary goes up and then you never get around to setting up your business.
“The best time to set up a business is when you are young as you have nothing to lose!”
With Tossed continuing to invest and grow, we’re sure the future looks bright for Mckevitt and the healthy eating chain.
BQ will continue to cover Tossed’s story as the firm continues to progress.
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