Our VC wants a stickier campus.
Is more food the answer?

It depends.

Food certainly enlivens and activates a campus. However, it is not a case of “build it and they will stay”.

In fact, at Brain & Poulter, we have identified several pillars to developing a stickier campus. Food is only one of them. Student accommodation, demographics, library opening hours are some of the other factors that can affect stickiness.

To discover what will maximise student engagement on your campus, we use our exclusive Dining DNA report card to measure stickiness efficacy. This report has helped us to generate positive ROI for many leading universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Every new building proposed on campus has a cafe included.
Will this result in too many cafes on the campus?

Yes, probably.

If you have a cafe in every building, they will often cannibalise each other’s sales.  You will also miss out on the opportunity to offer other desired cuisines like sushi, salads and juice bars.

When we look at your campus, we investigate how many cafes it can sustain profitability. We then highlight opportunities to offer different food options at certain locations.

We have found that this is the best way to attract quality operators who will invest in a great fit out and pay commercial rent.

If your Faculty Heads or Pro VC’s, insist on having a cafe in their new building, we are more than happy to provide evidence and rationale to convince them otherwise.

Our campus has multiple retail providers.
Will your strategy address how we should manage these providers in the future?


Brain & Poulter provides a 3-pronged evaluation of existing campus outlets to ascertain whether to exit, hold or change each outlet.

The evaluation considers:

  • Current sales and productivity performance benchmarked to industry averages.
  • Current professionalism of retail delivery and application of contemporary tools.
  • Relevance of cuisine to the tenancy tier mix hierarchy for the campus.

This 3-pronged approach removes the “emotion” from retail reviews.

It clearly identifies the desirable and productive cuisines that meet the needs of the students and staff on campus.

It also promotes sensible and impartial discussions with retailers as leases expire. (Please note, sometimes these end-of-lease conversations can be difficult. We are more than happy to present our findings and recommendations directly to the operators. This reduces any potential “bad blood“.)

We think that we need a supermarket because of the planned growth in campus student accommodation.
How can we confirm this?

The introduction of supermarkets or services like banks and pharmacies is a growing trend on campuses.

However, they are not suitable for every university.

Our team looks at projected student population, transport modes to and from the campus, and surrounding neighbourhoods to see if there are service retail opportunities for your campus.

 We are considering food vans to liven up our campus offering.
However, permanent tenants say it will negatively impact their business.
How can we solve this problem?

While food vans often raise student satisfaction levels, they can indeed have a negative impact unless you introduce them correctly.

We have developed a process to confirm whether food vans would introduce variety, or if you can achieve better results by simply remixing your existing food campus.

If it turns out that food vans are a viable option, we structure their introduction to drive overall food sales through cross exposure.

This helps to keep existing tenants happy.

 The student union/guild operates the majority of retail on campus.
Is there anything we can do to improve on this situation?


Our team has negotiated with student unions and guilds in many of the leading universities in Australia. 

We use analytics and benchmarking to give them a clear picture of the winners and losers in their portfolio. We then explain that they can increase returns by handing back the unprofitable spaces to the university.

This allows the university to open up these ‘hand backs’ to new retail offers that increase variety, competition and commercial returns.

A win-win situation for everyone.