Behind the Scenes

at Twickenham, with Chris Garside and Jonathan Davies

Arena welcomed hospitality professionals to the home of English Rugby, Twickenham, for an exclusive tour of the stadium including the new, state-of-the-art East Stand and its catering facilities, plus an insight into delivering world-class hospitality at the famous stadium from the Managing Director of Compass Group UK & Ireland, Chris Garside, and the Managing Director of Levy UK, Jonathan Davies. Guests also benefitted from a global consumer food and drink trends category insight session.

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Event Review

Behind the scenes at Twickenham

Personalisation and premiumisation were key themes across the day at our Behind the Scenes at Twickenham event as guests got a unique insight into the ‘Twickenham Experience’.

The day began with a selection of pastries and drinks in the Lock No. 5 room, courtesy of Délifrance, The London Essence Company and UCC Coffee.

The Tour

Next up, guests enjoyed a tour of the Home of England Rugby.  Beginning in The British Airways Rose Garden, a modern, informal hospitality space where guests can enjoy live music and pizza on match days, the tour moved into the pastry kitchen, which produces all the desserts and pastries for the hospitality offer of up to 15,000 guests.

Guests then made the most of photo opportunities and selfies inside the stadium, where the pitch dazzled in the gorgeous sunshine we were lucky enough to have for the day.  With 82,000 seats, it’s the largest dedicated rugby union stadium in the world and is really impressive to die hard and non-rugby fans alike.

Back inside, guests took a sneak peek at the England changing room which highlights the RFU’s core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. Every English player that has ever been capped at international level is listed on the wall to mark their contribution to the game.

Guests were then shown the ‘Spirit of Rugby’ and treated to a visit to the Royal Box.  Last, but certainly not least, a hidden gem was revealed; The Twickenham Cellar that holds 14 people for dinner.  The unique spot that can only be reached via the service corridor was the only part of the building that had to be preserved when the West Stand was developed in 2008.

Guests finished the tour in the private members-style East Wing within the newly developed East Stand, where they enjoyed pre-lunch cocktails and a welcome from Chris Garside, Managing Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland.

Commenting on the event Andrew Allen, Commercial Director, Biff's Kitchen said: "A great event and my first experience of what Arena is about. I found both the incredible surroundings and conversation inspiring and enjoyed having the opportunity to meet some new faces in a relaxed, friendly environment."

A true partnership for an unforgettable experience

Following an introduction to Compass Group UK & Ireland, whose market leading success is down to knowing their customers from oil rigs to race courses, boardrooms to classrooms, hospitals to barracks, museums to stadia and making people smile, Chris explained the background to Twickenham Experience Ltd,  a joint venture between the Rugby Football Union and Compass Group.

People, performance, purpose

As market leader, the team continually raise their game, by challenging clients perceptions of hospitality and most importantly, challenging themselves.  There’s no room for complacency and there’s an unstoppable focus on innovation.

A 100% cashless stadium, implementing the highest level of safety and reducing waste are all success stories that the team can be proud of.

Chris also pointed out that success is not always about reinventing, it’s often about sharing best practice and forming great partnerships.  The Compass team is drawing on experiences from the US, where they focus heavily on analytics and following the customer journey.  Some of the ‘smaller’ detail has potential to add huge value to the UK market.


Guests enjoyed a fantastic three-course lunch prepared by the Twickenham Experience team which began with a selection of canapés, set in Délifrance a la foile! tartlet shells and cones.

Dry aged Herefordshire rib of beef with confit garlic and désirée layered potatoes followed a delicate starter of hand-picked Cornish crab with sweetcorn panna cotta, avocado, maple and bacon.

The meal was finished with a raspberry and vanilla yoghurt mousse torte with raspberry pate de fruit and pistachio Chantilly followed by tea, coffee and truffles courtesy of UCC Coffee.

Following the outstanding lunch, Jonathan Davies, MD, Levy UK, gave guests further insight into Twickenham Experience Ltd:

Customer experience

The aim was to bring the hospitality that was happening outside the stadium, and give them the best ‘customer experience’. Working with Keith Prowse (Twickenham’s Principal sales partner), they’ve worked together to create a tiered hospitality experience.  It’s a move away from the heavy three course meal that’s normally associated with premium hospitality.

Instead the offer, or ‘experience’, is focused on activation and atmosphere. It’s about creating the personal experiences that are so sought after by consumers.

Sweating the asset

In stadia hospitality the number one priority is sweating the asset.  As the biggest single-fixed site in the UK, the 15,000 covers on match day need to generate high returns.

The move to a cashless system has created a double digit increase in sales, and the team are working to increase beer pour speed and improve the overall fan experience.  While Craft beers are increasing in popularity, Guinness remains the No.1 drink for rugby fans.  Gone are the days of only serving pies and hot dogs, fans now have a wide choice of independent outlets to offer that ‘different’ experience, with all dietary preferences catered for.

Matches aside, the team have 340 other days to sell conference and events in  the unique spaces.


Twickenham Stadium introduced the Eco Cup in 2014, which requires a deposit for a cup; guests either keep the cup or return it for their deposit. This scheme has saved around 9.5 million single use plastic from entering the waste stream since it was introduced.

Sustainability remains high on the agenda at the stadium.

Jonathan also highlighted caterers’ responsibility to minimise food waste and focus on ingredients.  With the impact of agriculture and food waste having twice the impact of transportation on global warming, he pointed out that it’s time to look at what we’re eating. With up to one third of crops being grown to feed cattle, he urged everyone to reduce red meat usage, focus on well-being and diversify our range of ingredients.

Following the charity draw for Hospitality Action and Springboard UK, guests finished the day with drinks in the Union Ale House. Catching up with one of our new Arena members, Considerate Group, Joanna Kapatou, Business Development Manager said: "It was such an excellent event. The day provided plenty of opportunities to network with key people from the hospitality industry and with the added bonus of a stadium tour.  Thank you Arena!"

Insight session: Consumer trends in the soft drinks market

Joanne Halstead, Senior Category Manager – Foodservice, Licensed and Leisure at Britvic Soft Drinks gave guests an overview of the out of home and soft drinks market and explored how to harness the current and future consumer trends at point of purchase to deliver experience and drive category growth.  

Whilst the out of home market is competitive, it’s responding well to the trends and growing year-on-year as drinking habits evolve and outlets diversify to include the likes of street food pop-ups, on-the-go and delivery.  Despite Brexit and low consumer confidence, the soft drinks market is worth almost £90bn per year and continues to grow.

This is driven by a number of factors including growing number of people eating and drinking out, spending more and a 24-hour out of home culture where snacking is growing and breakfast is now bigger than dinner, and healthy growth from coffee shops, sport clubs and in contract catering.

Soft drinks also delivered stand out performance in 2018 by responding well to the trends and market conditions, growing at every day part. No sugar, full flavour colas and carbs drove this growth, capturing people switching out of full sugar, and drawing new people into buying soft drinks Out of Home, and within Contract Catering, headline share in health care and headline growth in Workplace. Water Plus also showed double digit growth across the channel, and off a small base, adult soft drinks. As you would expect, full sugar drinks declined including colas, flavoured carbs and juice drinks. Bottled water saw massive declines directly as a direct result of the rise of refillable bottles.    

There are three key trends shaping new product development and future growth; health and wellness, premiumisation, immediacy and personalisation

Health is rapidly evolving to mean more than just sugar.  Consumers want soft drinks that make them feel good do them good and look good.   They’re choosing ‘natural’ and ‘fresh’ and will pay more for them. As consumers moderate alcohol, adult soft drink are also a category growing in importance.

Premiumisation is all about the right product for the outlet. Whilst there is a lot of noise and NPD in super premium soft drinks, it is the premium tier of soft drinks such as R Whites Favoured Lemonade and San Pellegrino are driving value growth and new people into soft drinks. Experience is also key to ‘worth more’ as consumers continue to seek out memorable experiences; it keeps them coming back and they’re willing to pay more for it.  It’s no longer just about food, experience is delivered but food and drink.  Soft drinks are the number 1 consumed drink with food, and pairing well with my food is a top driver of soft drinks choice.

Personalisation and immediacy; people are continually changing what, how, where and when they are consuming soft drinks. On the go is the only part of the channel growing frequency, making up 1 in 3 of all food and drink purchases Out of Home. Meal and snacking deals that delivery are really important to helping consumers rationalise spend with value for money, and as people increasingly consume across the day ensure your meal and snack deals appeal across the day.

The future looks bright

It’s predicted the Eating and Drinking Out market will grow at +1.8% in 2019, with the food to go market set to lead the way at an estimated +3.0%.   The fundamental need for value and convenience will remain key to market value growth, but it will be boosted by the more ‘conscious consumer’.

If you’d like more detailed information from the presentation or would like to know more about Britvic Soft Drinks, please drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch with Joanne.