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Meet the team bringing back the Dinner Lady love


You can’t go a day without hearing “CRET” mentioned in VDL at the moment. Team head Hassim Iqbal and supervisor Daniel Allen tell us more about who is in the team, what they’re up to and more…

Customer Retailer Engagement Team

Headed by Hassim Iqbal, the CRET is formed of supervisor Daniel Allen, with Mo Gire focussing on building our brand ambassador programme, Natalie Seaton providing social media insight and response, and building brand presence on forums around the world, and Calum Ramsey providing design support.

HASSIM: Our engagement in the beginning was a critical part of our early success, that’s what Dinner Lady was known for – a real love for the product by consumers and retailers and we want to bring back that love, and through that increase our market share.

DANIEL: It’s the CRET’s job to reinvigorate the love for Dinner Lady. The challenges of 2020 have pushed this to one side somewhat – for both us and our customers. The CRET’s core function is to ensure the great content that Dinner Lady produces reaches our retailers and consumers.

HASSIM: Dinner Lady has always been a brand that’s drawn people in, so we want to continue with that and keep pulling people in to engage with us – which in turn will help to drive sales.

DANIEL: The team hasn’t been running long, and I’ve only been back two weeks, but already we’re seeing that engagement is up on all our social platforms and we’re working with all the sales channels to target their markets.

HASSIM: The biggest success, so far, is seeing that the love for Dinner Lady is actually still out there – our fans never left us. I thought it might take longer to gain traction but the “pull” is there. We’ve gone from posts reaching four- to 500 people but we’re back reaching the thousands again now.

DANIEL: The biggest challenge is definitely social media algorithms and being a business on social media. We’re looking at software to help us overcome this, like listening tools which will monitor anywhere and everywhere we’re spoken about online. We can then jump into those places, and build greater awareness away from the main social channels.

HASSIM: These limitations are actually helpful in a lot of ways – as they make us look for and find other outlets.

DANIEL: We’ve got a couple of things coming up for Christmas with some creative video content being done – as everything so far has been image led and a bit static. So again, it’s back to something we used to be big on, thinking of the days at expos, we had videos out there left, right and centre.

Going into the New Year, the Vape Pen launch will be exciting for all channels and departments – and CRET will be getting it out there on the socials being talked about.

HASSIM: The world has changed this year. Expos were the natural place where Dinner Lady created its noise, and we’ve missed that. Everyone in the vape business is in the same position, but I feel we’re ahead of the curve to now raise the game again. We’re not just accepting that expos can’t happen, we’re taking the opportunity to find new ways to create that love for our brand.