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How to combine food and a conscience


Stephane Jitiaux: “Eating is just the start”

THE CONCLUDING session at The Happetite, MAPIC’s Food Forum, saw Cojean restaurant group CEO Stephane Jitiaux outline the company’s ethical and sustainable approach to business in the session People, Place and Planet.
Jitiaux said that if he was forced to choose only one priority, then “I would not be the CEO of Cojean” as he stressed that all three are necessary and that balancing all of these aspects was fundamental to how the business was formed and operated.
Cojean has 40 restaurants in Paris and six more in London, and Jitiaux said that expansion was accelerating because of the availability of space. While the chain has added 18 outlets in the past 12 years, in the past 12 months it has opened another eight and in 2022 it intends to add a further 14 to its portfolio.
“It is not a race,” he said. “But simply that now there are empty spaces available to us.”
In a wide-ranging interview with ECE Marketplaces project director, leasing services, Jonathan Doughty, Jitiaux said that the company has always tried to behave in a responsible and sustainable way, and to improve its processes.
He cited the removal of avocados from the breakfast menu as an example, because the company determined that despite their popularity, their environmental impact was too high. Having established a new Spanish supplier that uses far lower amounts of water to grow them, avocados are being reinstated but only for six months every year, to tie in with seasonal availability.
The company also distributes unused food at the end of each day and has worked to bring recycling closer, shifting from using services in China to France.
In terms of people, Jitiaux said that despite a 50% reduction in revenue last year, the company had not made any redundancies.
“While the general economy will be key, our model integrates all our responsibilities for staff and for our charitable foundation,” he said. “This is intrinsic to what we offer the customer and the experience. They know that eating is just the start.”
 
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