19 | Nov | 13

Richard Johnson

Rip Off Britain?

In August 2012, we got an email. Subject? “Street Food Gifting Range for Major High Street Multiples”. It was the first time we had heard the phrase “Gifting Range”. But we read on. It transpired that the author of the email worked  for a company that was looking to launch a street food inspired range in a major high street retailer. “I’d love to talk the concept through with you guys to see if we can raise the profile of street food in the UK” he wrote. So we took the meeting. And gave him lots of ideas. Then, after a flurry of activity –and a lot of emails involving a lot of research — nothing. That’s the nature of the business. I didn’t think anything of it until yesterday when I saw the Street Eats range in Debenhams, with everything from pestles to spices and taco holders. I don’t even know if it’s been produced by the same company we did all that research for. But the ownership of ideas is tricky. Manjit’s Kitchen are forever being photographed by trend spotters. And Karen at Bessie is always getting emails asking about the materials she uses in her caravan. What happens if somebody rips off their ideas? I interviewed The Ribman for the Guardian about how the supermarkets are a little too interested in what he’s cooking. Unusually, he was forthright with his opinions. Read them here. Is it a problem? Or is it all good — spreading the word to a wider public?