Members’ News

February 2022

Swing Low Sweet Chariot #

This Saturday will be a most welcome return to Twickenham for England and Wales fans alike, as old rivalries are sparked up once again as England take on Wales in the Six Nations, in front of 82,000 people.
Right now, this feels particularly relevant and poignant. Because the last time England played at home in this tournament, it was to an empty stadium. This Saturday will be very different indeed.
I for one cannot wait to see and hear 82,000 avid rugby fans, cheering on their home nations. The sounds of Swing Low and Bread of Heaven, filling the Twickenham air. For either side, win lose or draw, this is going to be a magnificent moment for the tournament and for the sport.  
From a Freemans Event Partners perspective, it’s also particularly poignant for us because we do have skin in this particular game.
For nearly ten years we have provided hospitality services to Twickenham Stadium. It started in 2014 with a takeover over mobile catering services at the stadium, and delivery of the Rugby World Cup as a host venue.  Fast forward to 2018, we launched Union15 Bar & Grill, this was the first semi-permanent food retail outlet of its kind, a ground-breaking concept and partnership.
Then, also in 2018, our partnership was renewed and expanded to manage 40+ food and beverage outlets, serving more than 2,000,000 customers per year.
Our longstanding relationship with Twickenham is a point of immense pride within the entire Freemans Event Partners Family. Over the last ten years we have worked closely with the team at Twickenham Experience Ltd, delivering truly ground-breaking work.
You could almost say that Twickenham is our home away from home. Over the last year or so, it’s been a little quiet and subdued… but that’s all about to change when 82,000 hungry and thirsty rugby fans come walking up Whitton Road!  
I’ll leave you, with one final point. Who remembers the last time England played Wales at Twickenham during the Six Nations?  It was in 2020, just before COVID struck, and it was a 33-30 thriller of titanic proportions.
Here’s hoping this Saturday is the same!

Bestway takes part in pioneering age-verification technology trial #

Bestway Wholesale, the UK’s largest independent food and drink wholesaler, has partnered with Innovative Technology to pilot the Convenience channel’s first use of age verification technology.

The regulatory ‘Sandbox’ trial, which is part of a Home Office programme, will run until May 2022 across three Bestway Retail stores in Leeds, namely:
-  Bargain Booze in Otley 
-  Wine Rack in Roundhay
-  Tippl in Garforth

Developed by Innovative Technology, the ICU age verification technology is the most accurate independently tested system worldwide and is tailored to help retailers avoid selling alcohol and tobacco products to underage customers. While the trial will still require humans to check customers ages, the technology has exciting potential use cases in retail, particularly when it comes to protecting staff from abuse.

Mike Hollis, Retail Director at Bestway Wholesale said:

We’re proud to be pioneering the use of age verification technology in our drinks led specialist stores. Staff abuse is rife in the convenience channel, with the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report highlighting that there were over a million incidents of verbal abuse and about 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores in the past year alone.”

“We surveyed staff in our three participating stores and the responses received showed that staff abuse, particularly when it comes to the refusal to sell alcohol, is a significant issue. All participants agreed that using technology could reduce staff abuse and we believe that using the ICU screen will act as a deterrent when it comes to staff abuse. It will also give retailers peace of mind and ensure that they avoid prosecutions, fines, or losing their license for the miss-sale of alcohol or tobacco products

Dr Andrew O’Brien, ICU Product Manager added:

We are delighted to be accepted into the UK Government Sandbox scheme and see all our hard work undertaken over the past few months come to fruition. Our team have liaised with local licensing authorities, local police officers and local councils to ensure our solution (ICU) is safe, legal and meets the criteria of the scheme. ICU age verification technology will now be piloted in several Bestway Retail stores in Yorkshire, and we will closely monitor our test sites to ensure we support the retailers’ and collate the relevant data throughout the trial.”

The ICU technology is non-intrusive and uses leading accuracy, edge AI that incorporates spoof detection technology. ICU’s specially trained algorithms can detect photographs and videos to prevent fraud attempts and takes place in the background without affecting the user experience. ICU does not require internet access and scans the face completely offline in seconds. The technology is fully GDPR compliant, as once the face scan is processed, all related data to that subject is permanently deleted.

The ICU verification technology can be installed alongside Point Of Sale with the screen facing the customer and the screening outcome visible to staff. Once a customer is scanned, the screen will flash green if above 25 or red if 25 or under, alerting staff that further age verification is required.

Data and digital experts TWC continues sponsorship of industry bike ride #

TWC is delighted to announce that it will be one of the main sponsors of the annual wholesale and convenience charity bike ride ‘Bikes Against Bombs’, raising funds in support of Mines Advisory Group (MAG).  The Bike Bosnia 2022 ride – which takes place from 10th to 15th June - will see the participants cycle 300km from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo and is the sixth international ride. The previous rides, including the UK rides during 2021, have raised a staggering £730,000 to help rid the world of landmines.

Tanya Pepin, Managing Director and Founder of TWC, said: “I am delighted that TWC is sponsoring the ride again this year. I joined the team in Cambodia and am signed up for Bike Bosnia 2022 and they are an amazing experience, both as a personal challenge but also from an industry networking point of view too. These rides are a real challenge and by no means a luxury holiday  – in fact, they are about as far away from this as you can get – but they are totally inspirational and worth all of the effort.”

She continues: “By getting involved in the bike rides I have learned a huge amount about the humanitarian issues following conflict, often in some of the poorest communities around the world, and I think we need to recognise that by working together, as organisations and the sector, we really can make the world a safer place, and ultimately a better place. I am proud that TWC is associated with this initiative.

Sarah Tavener, Head of Philanthropy at MAG said: “The Bikes Against Bombs riders raise vital funds to support our work. Around the world and we are thrilled that the team are taking on Bike Bosnia in 2022. MAG teams can clear more landmines and unexploded bombs and help conflict-affected communities to live free from fear thanks to their crucial support."

Sarah, who will be joining the 24-strong team of cyclists in June, adds: "More than twenty-five years after the end of the conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still one of the most heavily mined countries in Europe, with these deadly, indiscriminate items trapping as many as half a million women, girls, boys and men in fear.”

"On behalf of everyone at MAG, I want to thank the riders and sponsors for all their support. The team in Bosnia and Herzegovina are excited to welcome them, and I am looking forward to taking part too

For more information, please go to:

Coastal Cottages, Pembrokeshire’s leading holiday company, hires Speed Communications #

Pembrokeshire’s only independent holiday agency has hired Speed Communications on a retained basis to grow its brand across the consumer market in the UK.
Coastal Cottages has spent nearly 40 years building a portfolio of holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire that will cater to all holiday requirements. The company needed an agency that could raise awareness of its extensive collection of holiday properties and unique digital concierge service, which ensures guests have a premium experience from the moment they book to the moment they leave their cottage.  
Coastal Cottages was looking for an agency with a proven track record in the travel industry coupled with strength in consumer media relations to elevate the position of the brand as well as Pembrokeshire as a destination. Speed has developed an exciting programme of multi-channel activity to deliver column inches across to engage both the consumer and trade audience.
Speed Communications MD Kelly Pepworth said: “This exciting win builds on our strength in travel and hospitality, Costal Cottages will join a collection of stellar brands we’ve worked with including Virgin Atlantic, Necker Island and Merlin Entertainments.
“We believe there is a huge opportunity to reach a new audience through PR and show them the untapped beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast
Matthew Evans, CEO of Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire said: “The Speed team’s energy and experience within our business sector, together with their ambitious approach to our comms plan meant they were the clear choice for us to work with.”  

UK restaurant market to grow +59% in 2022 to £17.8bn – 94% of its 2019 value #

According to the new Lumina Intelligence UK Restaurant Market Report 2021/22, the UK restaurant market is set to recover to 94% of its 2019 value in 2022.

The report indicates that the UK restaurant market grew +25.9% or +£2.3 billion in 2021 to a total value of £11.2bn. Coronavirus restrictions in the first half of the year, including no dine-in trade until early April and outdoor only trade until late May, hampered recovery in the first six months of the year.

Outlet decline continued in the market in 2021, at a rate of -2.8%, seeing a net loss of -817 sites.

In 2022, the report predicts year-on-year growth of +59.4% or £6.6bn to a value of £17.8bn. Outlet decline in the market is expected to ease to -2.1% in 2022, impacted by continued decline in the independent segment.

In contrast to the entire restaurant market, the top 10 branded restaurants by turnover are expected achieve sales of £3 billion in 2022, exceeding 2019 turnover. Leading branded restaurants are also forecast to add a net +56 sites in 2022, a +1.5% increase.

Restaurant penetration was +69% higher in December 2021 than in December 2020, peaking in September with one in ten consumers having a restaurant occasion each week. Restaurant penetration fell towards the end of 2021 with the spread of Omicron impacting consumer risk aversion.

Delivery share of occasions peaked at 56% yet the channel continues to account for almost one in three branded restaurant occasions.

Consumers eat out in independent restaurants less frequently than branded restaurants, but when they do, they spend more. Average spend per person per visit for independent restaurants is £25.14, versus £21.59 for branded restaurants.

Operators use customisable dishes to maintain consumer choice, whilst maintaining reduced menu sizes.

Chain restaurant menus had an average of 64 dishes in 2021, a decline of -20% compared to 2019. This is the steepest decline in the market (vs. pubs and fast food). Operators are retaining simplified and reduced menus to mitigate challenges around staff shortages and supply chain disruption.

The proportion of items tagged as customisable increased by +46% on chain restaurant menus, with over a quarter of dishes (26%) now customisable. Greater customisation allows operators to continue to offer personalisation and wide choice, despite running reduced menus.

UK restaurant market to be worth £18.3bn in 2025

The UK restaurant market is forecast to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +1.0% from 2022F-25F, to see the market recover to £18.3bn.

Restaurant outlet decline is expected to slow from 2022F-25F to a CAGR of -1.5%, up from -4.0% in 2019-22F.

Blonnie Whist, Insight Director at Lumina Intelligence said, “Unrestricted trading throughout 2022 is forecast to underpin recovery in turnover across the market. Falling case numbers will boost virus conscious consumer confidence in socialising out of home. However, despite most wanting to move on from pandemic, it is the pandemic-led trends that will continue to provide the biggest growth opportunities. Demand for delivery shows no sign of waning, menus are set to remain streamlined to manage rising costs, digital ordering and payment solutions will increase speed and satisfactions and outdoor dining will be a key development opportunity.”

“Operators will have to be savvy, with costs rising impacting both consumer and operator spend. Increases in NLW, utility costs, VAT, the end of the rent mortarium and the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling on menus will all increase expenses for suppliers and operators. Increases in bills and National Insurance are expected to see consumers tighten purse strings. Restaurants will be in direct competition with pubs, QSR, delivery and grocery channels for spend

Find out more about Lumina Intelligence’s UK Restaurant Market Report 2021/22 here.

Sodexo launches Healthy Futures Partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation #

Sodexo has announced an exciting new partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people.  

The Healthy Futures Partnership was formed following research conducted by Sodexo in partnership with Business in the Community (BiTC), which identified that health and wellbeing, specifically nutrition education for children and young people, is a priority for Sodexo’s schools and universities clients.   

The British Nutrition Foundation is a public-facing charity which exists to give people, educators and organisations access to reliable information on nutrition. Grounded in science, the British Nutrition Foundation supports individuals and organisations on their journey towards adopting a healthy and sustainable diet.   

The British Nutrition Foundation, with 30 years of expertise and leadership in nutrition education, will collaborate with Sodexo to deliver an approach, which aims to positively impact some 250,000 children and young people across the 550 state and independent schools where Sodexo and its subsidiary, Alliance in Partnership, deliver school meals.  

This will be delivered through an innovative and sustainable approach to menu design combined with a range of evidence-based nutrition education programmes, including the British Nutrition Foundation’s nutrition and health and wellbeing training for Sodexo’s frontline catering teams as a key part of their continuous professional development. In addition, valuable learning resources are being created to help our trained chefs and for teaching staff to use in the classroom to help children and young people learn and improve their understanding of nutrition, cooking, and food provenance.  

Through this work, Sodexo aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the people they serve by providing valuable educational resources to help encourage children and young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to encourage their families to do so too.   

Rosemary Molinari, Head of Health & Wellbeing for Schools and Universities at Sodexo, said:  

Sodexo is delighted to partner with the British Nutrition Foundation. As a major provider of education catering services in the UK, we have a huge responsibility to educate the children and young people we cater for.  

“This generation, after all, is the first to have never known a life without unlimited access to people or information through social media, so we want to ensure they can access trusted advice to make informed decisions about their nutrition. The more we can educate students about their food choices, the more likely we will influence their performance whilst learning, their behaviours and their health and wellbeing into adulthood.  

“Ultimately, nutrition education delivered through a collaborative approach founded on shared expertise is key to our story and very much aligned with the recommendations from the National Food Strategy that include the importance of nutrition education

Fundamental to the Partnership is measuring the progress of the initiative. To ensure that it delivers the difference it seeks to make in the community, the British Nutrition Foundation will independently monitor and report on its impact through evaluation and feedback from staff, pupils, and teachers.   

Sara Stanner, Science Director at the British Nutrition Foundation, added:   

It is important for all children and young people to receive good education on food, nutrition and health so that they are equipped with the necessary skills to make healthy choices and to eat well now and in the future.  We welcome the opportunity to work with Sodexo as part of the Healthy Futures Partnership to help them make a meaningful difference to the health and wellbeing of the young people they serve, as well as to support the staff involved to deliver food education in schools through training and resources.”  

Chartwells Independent celebrates culinary excellence with Craft Skills event #

Chartwells Independent, the independent school catering division of Chartwells, celebrated the culinary talent across its team with a Craft Skills for Chefs engagement day held at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham.
The day, which was organised by its Executive Chef, Rob Kennedy, saw over 120 chefs from across the country attend the event, alongside a host of suppliers, colleagues, and key industry stakeholders for a day of culinary workshop sessions, competition, and engagement.

Throughout the day, a series of expert culinary workshops were delivered from leading industry chefs, including Adam Lestrelle, from Coworth Park; Karl Pendlebury from AHDB; Frank Pontais, from Koppet Cress; and Mohit Malhotra, from Rational, amongst others.
Attendees could also engage with key industry suppliers and associations throughout the day in the exhibition hall, with leading food and drink producers, technology companies, nutrition experts, industry associations, and internal diversity networks all in attendance.

The focal point for the day was a culinary competition with over 20 participants. The competition included three rounds: two static judging rounds, including a bread category and a bakery category, followed by a live cook off signature dish category.
The entrants were judged by a panel of experts, including: Graham Crump, British Culinary Foundation; Steve Scuffle, Craft Guild of Chefs; and Nick Tessyman, Christ’s Hospital; alongside several senior Compass UK & Ireland chefs, all chaired under the watchful guidance of Nick Vadis, Compass’ UK Executive Chef. 

The judges were particularly impressed by the calibre of entries throughout the day, which all demonstrated high levels of culinary skills and creativity. The hotly contested event saw Krzystof Mikulski from Redmaids take home first price in the bread display category; while Georgi Georgiev, from Christ’s Hospital received a special award for the quality of their standalone loaf; Sarah Van der Walt from Rugby School won the bakery category, with an incredibly detailed tree cake; while Amy Joyce, from Whitgift School, took home the signature dish, with a Caribbean rum cake.

Amy Joyce, Senior Sous Chef at Whitgift School, said: “It was amazing to get together with likeminded chefs from across Chartwells Independent for the first time since the pandemic started. We’re a tight knit community that’s passionate about serving quality food to our pupils, but we rarely get the opportunity to showcase the full range of our skills in front of our peers and a panel of industry judges, which made it extra special.

“Truth be told, I was incredibly surprised when I was announced as the winner. I’d been perfecting my dish of Caribbean rum cake for several weeks now, but as can be the case with live events, I’d had a few issues when starting the round.  It’s a dish that takes inspiration from my roots and a lot of thought and emotion went into developing the recipe, so receiving the top accolade really means a lot

Noelle Jones, Managing Director of Chartwells Independent said: “I’m immensely proud of how the day has gone and the quality of food that was on show; a true testament to the depth of talent we have across Chartwells Independent.
Coming out of the pandemic, we challenged ourselves to go on a culinary journey, focusing around three core principles – quality, simple, delicious. Rob Kennedy has been a driving force behind this, having a significant impact on the consistency and standard of food we now offer across the business. The food stands up when it comes to quality of ingredients and skill of execution – today was very much a celebration of that.
“However, it’s no longer enough to just create quality, simple, delicious food, you also must stand up when it comes to innovation, nutrition and sustainability. To do this well, you need to form strong partnerships with your clients and suppliers, so that you can work collaboratively, sharing insight, guidance, and best practice. To see so many fantastic partners turn up and engage today, gives much cause for optimism as we look ahead to growing and expanding the business in a sustainable fashion

Sodexo receives Stonewall Silver Employer award for commitment to LGBT+ inclusion at work #

Sodexo has received a Silver Employer award from Stonewall, the world’s second-largest LGBT+ charity, for its commitment and efforts in being an LGBT+ inclusive employer 

The award comes as part of Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index and Bring Yourself to Work campaign, which highlights the importance of inclusive work environments. Every year Stonewall publishes the Index, and this is the first year that Sodexo has submitted an entry. 

According to the charity’s research, more than a third of LGBT+ staff (35 per cent) hide who they are at work, while one in five (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments because they’re LGBT+. 

As part of Stonewall’s Bring Yourself To Work, the LGBT+ equality charity, has awarded a series of gold, silver and bronze awards to organisations in recognition of their inclusion work. 

To achieve one of these awards, organisations must meet several requirements, including having clear policies on discrimination, bullying and harassment and transitioning at work. 

Organisations must also have an LGBT+ employee network group, a diversity & inclusion group with formal LGBT+ representation or a formal agreement with an external network in the region. 

At Sodexo, the Pride Network employee group has delivered a range of initiatives to support and promote LGBT+ inclusivity across the business. This has included educational webinars for employees, Pride lanyards and the launch of the #StandByMe allyship campaign, which encourages more visible allies to come forward and support LGBT+ colleagues and the Pride network. 

The organisation has also built an inclusive brand through their external and internal communication channels with a dedicated Sodexo Pride Twitter campaign regularly sharing the positive work they are doing. 

Sodexo is also one of the founding members of LGBT+ in FM network, a cross-industry group collaborating to drive inclusion across the FM sector. 

Raj Jones, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sodexo (she/her), said:

Our Pride employee network has been instrumental in ensuring LGBT+ colleagues feel welcomed, safe and have opportunities to grow their careers at Sodexo. While this award from Stonewall is an achievement of which we are truly proud, we know that more needs to be done.    

“We will continue to challenge discrimination and promote a working environment in which people can be open about their sexual orientation and their gender identity should they choose to. This is not only important for an equitable society, but it is crucial that colleagues feel they belong if we are to succeed as an inclusive organisation

Liz Ward, Director of Programmes at Stonewall (she/her) said:    

We spend so much of our time at work, and our career can be a huge part of how we define ourselves. Every single lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer person should be able to be themself at work. From understanding how HR policies, such as parental leave, will affect them, to being reassured that they can speak openly about their lives and partners at the coffee machine, the impact of inclusive workplaces can be life-changing. 

“It’s fantastic that Sodexo has gained the Silver Employer award for their efforts and commitment to creating an inclusive work environment, and we look forward to seeing and supporting the rest of their inclusion journey.

Springboard announces Evening at the Races #

Springboard invites you to join us for an exquisite evening out at Royal Windsor Racecourse on Monday 9th May.
We have the use of Riverbank Marquee, a well-placed, exclusive and beautiful area with its own bar and private sun terrace, overlooking the parade ring.
We'll be close to viewing areas of the racecourse and with both convenient betting facilities and flat screen TVs, you can enjoy luxurious and comfortable surroundings without missing out on any of the main event!
Your hospitality ticket also includes a delicious three-course meal and complimentary parking
The evening at the races is perfect for rewarding your team or delighting your clients. Prices are £150 (+VAT) per person or book for a group of 10 at £1,350 (+VAT):
Have a great evening out whilst supporting #TheSpringboardCharity to futureproof the talent pipeline for hospitality!