Members’ News

December 2020

Sodexo Awarded New Five-Year Catering Contract at Oundle School #

Oundle School, one of Britain’s leading co-educational boarding and day schools, has awarded a five-year catering contract to Independents by Sodexo following an extensive tendering and evaluation process.

Coming into effect on 1 January 2021, the contract will include a significant investment and refurbishment programme, to upgrade and modernise the catering infrastructure across the school’s extensive estate, including Laxton Junior School. 

Introducing innovative menus developed on the understanding of what’s important to Oundle’s pupils, Independents by Sodexo will offer new contemporary dishes, sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients to reflect the dining preferences of the schools varied pupil demographic.

Complementing the catering operation, additional staff appointments will place emphasis on food expertise, enhancing nutritional education and providing strategic guidance for the future development of services at the school.

Jeremy Alderton Managing Director, Independent and Private Schools at Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are delighted to be entering into this partnership with Oundle School and recognise the importance of partnership working to meet and exceed expectations.

“Building an understanding of the role that good food and nutrition plays is paramount and it’s our ambition to work with pupils, staff and parents to ensure they are engaged with and supportive of the programme at every step

Based in Northamptonshire, Oundle traces its history back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers endowed a ‘Free Grammar School’ in Oundle, where he had been educated at the original Guild School founded in 1506

The school buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town with pupils regularly passing through the streets during the school day, instilling an appreciation of being part of both a school and the local community.

Sarah Kerr-Dineen, Head at Oundle School said: “Independents by Sodexo impressed us throughout the comprehensive tendering process, and I am particularly excited by their vision for all aspects of the catering operation, from provenance and sustainability through to professional development.

“They demonstrated a genuine understanding of how young people engage with meal choices and the importance of developing positive relationships with food that will sustain them throughout their adult lives

Peter Backman shares the ‘ones to watch’ operator brands #

In his latest bi-annual ‘Ones to Watch’ report, industry analyst and commentator – Peter Backman – has identified tomorrow’s leading operator brands. Thunderbird Chicken, Oodles, Slim Chickens, Rosa’s Thai Café, Bar+Block, Crosstown Doughnuts and Tim Hortons all feature on the list. 
Peter comments “Clearly, this year’s events have made the reports very difficult, almost impossible to produce. Nevertheless, I have published the latest edition on the assumption that the market will return to growth in the future, no doubt to be accelerated by the arrival of the vaccine.”
The Ones to Watch brands provide new opportunities for suppliers, operators, distributors and investors, often through organic growth, franchising, external investment or acquisition by larger foodservice organisations.
He continues: “With the market’s return, past experience shows that many of  the brands featured will go on to be the leaders but we will also see the emergence of new brands.  In the meantime, the Ones to Watch report provides a benchmark for the development of the post-covid world.
The free report summary is available to download at
The full data report, which includes a listing of the almost 100 Ones to Watch brands, including number of outlets and ownership, plus 300 ‘Bubbling Under’ brands is available to buy here.  It’s used by investors and suppliers looking for new customers with growth potential.  Peter is offering a preferential rate to Arena members.  Please contact him at for further details.

Entries now open for the Springboard Virtual Awards for Excellence #

Springboard UK is calling for entries into its annual Awards for Excellence, which will reward outstanding achievements in hospitality.

New to this year, the awards will include additional categories to showcase businesses and employees who have gone above and beyond, demonstrating the ability to quickly adapt and implement new, successful initiatives in order to support their employees and communities during the pandemic.

Chris Gamm, Springboard’s newly appointed CEO, said: “It’s been a hugely challenging year for hospitality, but we’ve seen some amazing innovation: from the way businesses operate, market themselves, and develop their teams, to the way they look after their people and unlock new opportunities.

“Springboard’s Awards for Excellence will be a little different this year to reflect the climate we find ourselves in. We will showcase the resilience of the industry, surviving a difficult year and still going above and beyond to support their staff, adapt their business and give back to the community.

“If this sounds like you, I urge you to enter Springboard’s Awards for Excellence and celebrate your outstanding achievements among the very best hospitality has to offer

The awards are open to any hospitality business that is proud of their achievements over the past year. This year there is also the option for businesses or members of the public to nominate another deserving business or individual.

There will be 16 different awards to choose from falling under the main categories of Staff Support, Business Innovation and Community. The most impressive entries in each category will be presented virtually in March.
The Awards will be an opportunity for companies to build their employer brand and gain industry recognition – all the while supporting the Springboard Charity.

To enter, or find out more about The Springboard Awards for Excellence, visit

Délifrance taps into hybrid trend with indulgent new Brownie Swirl #

Leading bakery supplier Délifrance has created an innovative new hybrid - the Brownie Swirl, which will be added to its A Taste Of range.  

The unique new addition is a cleverly crafted viennoiserie hybrid that combines the best loved elements of a French puff pastry with the taste of one of North America’s most popular dessert classics, the brownie. It has a fluffy melt in the mouth texture and thin crispy layering with a rich and visible filling that meets the demand of today’s consumer.   

Délifrance’s latest bakery report Prove It revealed that 70% of consumers say taste/flavour is their top consideration when buying a pastry, with 28% willing to buy more if there was a wider choice of flavours. 

Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director for Northern Europe and North America at Délifrance, said: “It’s clear that the love of hybrid products is not slowing down any time soon. From the cronut to the cruffin, croissant hybrids are exploding the category with exciting new tastes and combinations that are accessible across multiple day parts. We have noticed a real opportunity here to create something unique and pleasurable in the Brownie Swirl.  

“Eating habits have changed considerably. We know that 45% of global customers like to try new flavours and with today’s busy modern schedule, 61% of under-35s are eating more often in-between meals. In fact, snacking culture has seen a surge due to lockdown with more than one in three British adults finding they were snacking more often during the day.3 Operators need to tap into this by offering a great on-the-go range that strikes a balance between the traditional and experimenting with new flavours. Consumers will thank them for it!

The Brownie Swirl makes the perfect choice for an indulgent breakfast or snack and is ideal for the QSR and OOH markets.  

To find out more about Délifrance UK and see its full range of bread, viennoiserie, savoury and pâtisserie products, visit its website at 

More than 330 counselling sessions help to improve Sodexo healthcare employees’ mental health #

More than 330 on-site counselling sessions have helped to improve Sodexo healthcare employees’ psychological and emotional health. 

The service, launched in June, was designed to help frontline keyworkers, supervisory and management employees deal with the pressures of working through the COVID-19 pandemic and improve their quality of life. 

Employees have used the sessions to discuss issues across their work and personal lives, with feedback including:

It’s helped me to take back control
I feel understood
I can just be myself
I can express my emotions

Security Officer Craig Evans, Integrative Counsellor Natalie Brayford, Sodexo Business Director Ruth Freeman and University Hospitals North Midlands Chief Executive Tracy Bullock spoke about the service, available to watch here. 

Stuart Winters, Sodexo Healthcare UK & Ireland CEO, said: “Our team has consistently performed their jobs at the highest level. We recognise the importance of supporting our healthcare workforce and helping to alleviate some of the pressure of working through a global pandemic. 

“The counselling approach was developed by our learning and development team following a review into the global pandemic response of Sodexo and designed to compliment our existing range of health and wellbeing tools

The counselling trial was rolled out at several Sodexo healthcare contracts, mostly at acute hospitals, including University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. 

Tracy Bullock, Chief Executive, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust said: “What greater thing can we do for the wellbeing of staff? I am wholly supportive of the service. For staff on the frontline to be able to speak to someone who is trained who can listen to them and support them is a phenomenal success.” 

Initially launched on a three-month trial, it has been extended to April 2021 following its success.

FEA puts five point plan to Westminster Forum #

But will broad support for energy saving equipment initiative turn into action?

We keep pushing.”  That’s the message from the FEA’s chief executive Keith Warren, after a successful presentation to the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum, on 9th December, where he detailed the Association’s plan to achieve net zero carbon for the foodservice equipment industry.  He also explained the FEA’s Food and Drink Material Hierarchy, which concerns the Association’s campaign to encourage the foodservice industry to turn waste, including FOG (Fats, Oil and Grease) into a resource. 

The Forum is a cross-party organisation and events are attended by members of both houses as well as senior civil servants.  Although the five point plan has already received broad support, the FEA says it has no plans to let up on its lobbying activities.  “It’s only by continually pressing legislators that we can keep the focus on the foodservice equipment industry’s needs in terms of achieving our net zero carbon targets,” says Warren. 

FEA’s Five Point Plan is designed to encourage the use of energy saving equipment by incentivising operators, manufacturers, resellers and consultants.  It covers:

Manufacturer tax credits – based on the number of energy efficient models sold
A net zero equipment recycling scheme – to encourage operators to replace old appliances with new, energy efficient versions
Giving energy efficient equipment BREEAM and LEED certification points – to foster consultant and specifier engagement
Incentivising dealers and resellers – by paying them extra commission when they sell energy efficient equipment

Developing a new Energy Technology List (ETL) – to make it easy for operators and specifiers to select sustainable and energy efficient equipment Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG attended the Forum and asked Warren what the barriers were to stop the five point plan from happening?  Warren replied that one issue was the fragmentation of the industry – which was why FEA is working hard to increase collaboration both throughout the supply chain and with operators. 

On the topic of food waste management, Warren advanced the FEA’s position that technologies, such as food waste disposal units, digesters and in-vessel composters, can provide alternative and eco-friendly solutions  - and that kerbside collection is not a ‘one size fits all’ panacea.  He also discussed the various technologies available to both tackle and exploit FOG. 

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on FEA visit 

New NESCAFÉ research reveals almost two-thirds of consumers would buy a coffee-to-go if it was a well-known brand under £2 a cup #

NESCAFÉ, the coffee experts, have released a new guide revealing the potential for local businesses to capitalise on the freshly ground coffee-to-go market.  
The guide, called Brewing profits locally: One cup at a time, shows that almost two-thirds (61%) of consumers would be more interested in purchasing a freshly ground coffee-to-go if it was a well-recognised brand and at an affordable price under £2 a cup (compared to a coffee shop), making a strong case for the bean-to-cup coffee machine in local convenience stores (pricing is at the sole discretion of the retailer). 
The research, which features a Onepoll survey of 1,000 regular coffee drinkers in the UK, also highlights the trend towards supporting local retailers, with 70% of consumers using them for ‘top-up’ shops and more than half (51%) citing a visit to their local convenience store as a way to support local businesses. 
The guide shows that quality, price and speed of service are the three most important factors for consumers when it comes to deciding to purchase coffee-to-go. 
Charlotte Smith, Category Manager – Coffee-to-go, Nestlé Professional UK & Ireland says: “The guide underlines the huge potential for coffee-to-go in the convenience space. As more people shop and work locally, small business and convenience store owners have the opportunity to satisfy consumers and drive loyalty through a quality fresh bean coffee offering.”  
“Our survey also shows that a trusted brand and affordable price point are important, making the NESCAFÉ Mini Bean to Cup Coffee Machine ideally placed to help local convenience stores compete with coffee shops and tap into a new consumption occasion as local shoppers look to take coffee-to-go back to their home working spaces.
NESCAFÉ offers convenience retailers a range of coffee-to-go solutions, including the NESCAFÉ &GO Machine, which is a quick and easy to use pre-filled cup solution, ideal for shops that serve up to 15 cups per day and who are looking to attract busy customers who want their favourite coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Alternatively, the NESCAFÉ Mini Bean to Cup Coffee Machine offers customers a fresh bean coffee-shop style experience – from espresso and Americano, to lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate. As an opening deal, members can benefit from two 600 cup bundles worth £2400** when purchasing a qualifying NESCAFÉ Mini Bean to Cup Machine.   
The Brewing profits locally: One cup at a time guide follows the launch of NESCAFÉ’s new online coffee-to-go hub. The hub features more about the latest coffee market trends, advice and tips for success, plus access to a ‘click n deliver’ online ordering service as well as POS materials.

To download the guide click on the link below, Brewing profits locally: One cup at a time

To register your interest in the Nescafé Mini Bean to Cup machine click on the link below​

Eton End Preparatory School awards 15-year catering services contract extension to Sodexo #

Independents by Sodexo has extended its long-term catering services contract with Eton End School for a further 15 years.

Building on its partnership with the Datchet based school, the contract extension will also see Sodexo invest in the complete refurbishment of the kitchen and dining room areas.

Eton End was founded in May 1936 when the school’s first Headmistress, Miss Johnston, responded to the request from Eton College Masters to start a school for their children. Today the co-educational school thrives on a friendly, caring ethos that goes hand in hand with high standards and outstanding academic success.

The catering team will offer a wide range of dishes with a focus on fresh, nutritious and seasonal food, sourcing and promoting the use of sustainably grown or raised products wherever possible.

Jeremy Alderton, managing director independent and private schools at Sodexo, said: “The 15-year extension of our contract with Eton End School reflects the long-standing relationship we have with the school and we are delighted and proud to confirm the continuation of the partnership.

“We remain committed to providing Eton End with a superior catering operation, alongside significant investment that will greatly improve the kitchen facilities and pupil dining experience

The new contract demonstrates how Sodexo has continued to develop its services and work with its long-term clients. Sodexo’s priority remains the same - to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and all those it serves.

Sophie Banks, Headmistress at Eton End School said: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with Sodexo and our commitment to a long-term contract speaks volumes of our satisfaction with the company.  We are also very excited about the redevelopment of our kitchen, dining room and servery that the contract is enabling, which will enhance our children’s mealtimes and will allow us to introduce food technology classes into our curriculum.

Chartwells is the first school caterer to join Child Food Poverty Taskforce #

Chartwells, the leading provider of catering and support services to schools in the UK, has joined the Child Food Poverty taskforce formed by Marcus Rashford MBE, to tackle child food poverty in the UK.  

Chartwells will now support the taskforce in its delivery of key policy recommendations of the National Food Strategy;

Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5million 7-16 year olds.

Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1million children. Chartwells works with over 3,000 education establishments, including thousands of schools across the UK, to help students build strong bodies, sharp minds and lead long, healthy lives. Chartwells provides nourishing and great tasting meals created by its team of nutritionists and chefs, and food ambassadors delivering food education in the classroom.

In 2018, Chartwells launched a dedicated health and wellbeing programme, Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen. As part of this there was a focus on holiday provision and since then Chartwells has provided many children across the UK, including 13,000 in Lewisham alone, with meals during holidays; partnered with more than 30 charities to help support vulnerable children; reached 4,000 young people in school breaks with education and information; and trained around 70 holiday lunch club volunteers to help families in need.
The programme now has a suite of virtual resources, which take into account current restrictions offering practical learning via The Super Yummy Kitchen YouTube channel, which was created during the nationwide Covid lockdown earlier this year, to help children and families utilise the cook along videos with entertaining and educational content. Plus, it has introduced interactive sessions with nutritionists and chefs, webinars, as well as access to printable and online materials.

Charlie Brown, Managing Director, Chartwells commented: “Marcus Rashford’s campaign shines a much-needed spotlight on the issue of child food poverty. We know how important nutritious food is to educational attainment, and that food provision is a real struggle for some families, so we fully support widening access to free school meals.

“We’re now going to be working with the taskforce to provide healthy meals during school holidays for those entitled to free school meals. As the first school caterer on board, I believe our insights and our networks in schools will be valuable, to make a real difference to young lives.”

“There is significant strength and power in numbers and to really combat the issue of child food poverty in the UK and stabilise households we must all play a role. I’m thrilled that Chartwells has joined us on this journey to guarantee no child in this country goes hungry
.” Marcus Rashford MBE

Chartwells will be joining other businesses on the taskforce including; Aldi, Asda, Brakes, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, General Mills, Greggs, Heinz, Hovis, Iceland, Kellogg’s, Lidl, Marcus Rashford, Mars Food, Marks & Spencers, Morrisons, Nandos, Ocado, Princes, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Weetabix.

Compass Group UK & Ireland Announces New Managing Director for RA Group #

Compass Group UK & Ireland is delighted to announce that Matt Thomas will be joining the UK&I Executive team as Managing Director of RA Group on 4th January 2021. RA Group is a collection of specialist food and guest services companies.  From prestigious corporate organisations to iconic cultural and heritage venues, it includes Restaurant Associates, Rapport, RA Venues and commercial restaurant partnerships including City Social by Jason Atherton. 

Matt joins Compass from WSH, the holding company for brands such as BaxterStorey, Benugo and Searcys, where he has held senior roles for more than a decade. Most recently Matt was Managing Director of Searcys, a collection of restaurants, events and workplace venues, where his brand relaunch included a Champagne School and sustainability accreditation. Previously, Matt was Managing Director, London for BaxterStorey, the UK’s largest independent food service provider. 

Matt is taking over from Alice Woodwark who is moving on from Compass Group after seven successful years with the company in senior strategic and management roles. 

Robin Mills, Managing Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Matt and are excited about what lies ahead. We look forward to Matt’s leadership and creativity in building RA Group for the future, and his contribution to the future path for Compass Group UK&I. 

“I would like to thank Alice Woodwark for her exceptional stewardship of the RA Group and the legacy she leaves of a hugely respected and innovative brand that has become a leader in community social enterprise, sustainability and contemporary food.  Alice has also led with compassion through this challenging year, spearheading innovation that lays the foundation for strong future growth

Matt Thomas said: “I am delighted to be joining the Compass Group UK and Ireland leadership team, at the helm of the RA Group. Their collective enthusiasm for what they do and their desire to think differently is nothing short of inspirational. I admire what the RA Group stands for, its strong heritage and relentless pursuit of excellence. I look forward to meeting the teams, clients and customers, with a view to influencing the future direction and growth of RA Group brands.”