Members’ News

July 2024

Sodexo volunteers put in over 500 hours to support SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity #

Sodexo employees, through the Stop Hunger Foundation, continue to support the armed forces community through volunteering activities to help SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provide valuable aid to service personnel, veterans and their families. 

Earlier this month Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation arranged volunteering opportunities with long-standing charity partner, SSAFA, at seven locations across the UK and Cyprus for Sodexo’s employees and for volunteers from its supply partners and client organisations. 

Over one week, National Volunteers Week (3-9 June), around 92 volunteers put in 525 hours support though a volunteering drive organised between SSAFA and Sodexo Stop Hunger.  The volunteers helped with gardening, well-being workshops, painting, and handing out leaflets. Around 780 SSAFA members benefitted from the help of the volunteers in the one week alone. 

Terrie, housing manager from SSAFA’s Stepping Stone Home said: "The work of the volunteers is nothing short of incredible. Painting the fences has helped us provide a safe and welcoming environment for our beneficiaries who desperately need it.” 

In addition to this special volunteering drive around 70 Sodexo employees will be participating in SSAFA’s 13 Bridges Challenge, an annual fundraising event held in London covering the city’s iconic bridges on 29 June, Armed Forces Day. Some participants will be taking part in the 10-mile walk virtually, however all will be raising valuable funds for SSAFA. 

Gareth John, European Director of Sodexo Legal Affairs and Chair of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation said: “Sadly veterans are more likely to face food insecurity. This is why Stop Hunger has been a partner to SSAFA since 2008, supporting the provision of urgent welfare – financial, practical and emotional – to those most in need from the armed forces community, in particular veterans and their families through SSAFA’s Stop Hunger Homelessness Fund. Volunteering plays an important role in our partnership with SSAFA so it was an honour to provide opportunities for our colleagues, clients and suppliers for our annual volunteering drive.” 

Last year marked a milestone in the partnership with the total funding donated from Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation to SSAFA reaching £500,000. The annual donation from the Stop Hunger Foundation supports SSAFA’s Homelessness Fund, providing funding for the urgent welfare provision to those most in need from the armed forces community, particularly veterans and their families across all three services. Grants from the fund are also a vital resource for volunteer caseworkers to find a swift resolution to urgent cases. 

Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity said: “SSAFA is delighted to maintain its long-standing relationship with Sodexo and the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, a relationship that makes a real and practical difference to those in our Armed Forces community who need support. And that holistic help that provides financial assistance to SSAFA’s Homelessness Fund, is as vital today as it has ever been”. 

Sodexo’s volunteering programme is part of its commitment to fighting food insecurity both in the UK and Ireland as well as across the globe. Every year Sodexo, through the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, enables its employees to three paid days to participate in volunteering activity with charities such as SSAFA. This provides them with the chance to deliver social impact to their local communities as well as providing opportunities for team-building, improved wellbeing, as well as the development of personal and professional skills 

Working with national and local charity partners Sodexo Stop Hunger unites and mobilises changemakers engaging its employees in a wide range of volunteering opportunities. The Foundation’s work goes beyond immediate food aid activities, it is focused on changing lives by addressing the root causes of food insecurity with a focus on women empowerment. 

Sodexo is the founding partner of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation. In the UK & Ireland, the Foundation’s (a UK registered charity) mission is to act sustainably to fight food insecurity and complement Sodexo's Social Impact pledge. 

FEA launches first expansion module for Foodservice Carbon Professional course #

Sector specific content will allow students to tailor course to their exact needs
The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) has launched a refrigeration module for the Foodservice Carbon Professional course. This complements the core FCP course, which explains the science of climate change, what the government is trying to do about it through legislation, and how this applies to the foodservice sector as well as how equipment can play a significant role in improving sustainability.

The module’s digital launch, on June 24 2024, was led by Dr Samantha Mudie, who completed a doctorate in energy reduction in commercial kitchens and has worked with FEA to curate FCP course content. Her groundbreaking research showcased how energy efficient kitchens of the future may be specified, as well as highlighting many current opportunities.

The module will allow course participants to gain specialised information about refrigeration equipment and how to choose and use them to minimise their environmental impact. Students will learn the history of refrigeration equipment, how it is being improved with technological advances, and relevant legislation and standards that cover its commercial use. They will also learn how to specify, operate, monitor, and maintain refrigeration equipment to minimise its environmental impact throughout its working life.

FEA developed the FCP course in association with Hospitality Energy Saving to provide the whole foodservice industry, from manufacturers and suppliers to operators, with the skills they need to identify sustainable equipment and explain why it is good to pick it.

“The FCP course gives people working in all parts of foodservice the knowledge to address the energy challenges and demands for improved sustainability the industry is facing,” says Paul Anderson, chair of FEA. “We are developing more modules that will be launched over the coming year.  In conjunction with the core module, they will allow access to unique insight and information relevant to each component of the sector’s equipment supply chain.”

The FCP modules are delivered via FEA Academy, the Association’s learning management system. It consists of online modules using a mix of resources that can be completed within 12 months at the student’s own pace, and webinar tutorials. Delegates must complete the Core Module and exam, and an elective category specific module and exam before being awarded Foodservice Carbon Professional status.

The individual core course costs £750, with individual sector specific modules costing £650. A combined core/category specific module deal is also available with core and one product module costing £1300 per person, a saving of £100.

More information on the course can be found on the FCP landing page, which is at, under the learning and development tab (

Anyone wishing to start their carbon management accreditation can sign-up to Foodservice Carbon Professional here.

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 

Bidcorp UK appoints Andy Farnworth as Managing Director of Bidfresh #

Bidcorp UK is proud to announce the appointment of Andy Farnworth as the new Managing Director of its fresh food division, Bidfresh. From 1st July 2024, Andy will replace Brian Hall, who after nearly 20 years at the company, will retire this summer.
In a move to further cement Bidfresh’s position as the market leader for fresh produce in foodservice, Andy brings with him a wealth of experience as well as some ambitious new targets, including aspirations to double the size of the business over the next five years.
Prior to his move to Bidfresh, Andy spent 16 years at Fresh Direct, most recently serving as Managing Director for all of the UK’s fresh operations, and before that, Sales & Marketing Director overseeing a decade of unprecedented revenue and profit growth.
Commenting on his appointment, Andy said: “It’s great to have joined such a successful business with a fantastic team of passionate experts. I feel incredibly privileged to lead the fresh team and to be the custodian of such terrific brands.”
“Our proposition is truly unique in fresh foodservice. We have ten independent businesses, led by local people, operating autonomously in their regional markets, each with a team of highly skilled fishmongers, butchers and greengrocers. They are essentially standalone SME’s with full autonomy, but they are backed by the support and investment from our parent Bidcorp UK, it is a powerful combination.”
“We want Bidfresh to be every chef and caterer's go-to supplier for all of their fresh requirements; fish, seafood, produce, dairy and meat. We will continue to passionately serve our fantastic customers and will be looking to grow into new territories through organic development and acquisitions of like-minded regional fresh businesses, who share our passion and beliefs and will improve our proposition.”

Andrew Selley, CEO of Bidcorp UK added: "We're delighted to welcome Andy into the Bidcorp UK family as the new Managing Director of Bidfresh. Andy is a focused, value-driven and passionate leader with a great deal of experience in the industry, as well as maintaining excellent customer relationships. His work on strategy, operations, sales and marketing will be a great asset to Bidfresh and its independent brands. 
“I would also like to express my gratitude to Brian Hall, who has been at the helm of Bidfresh for the past four and a half years. The positive changes Brian has made to Bidfresh have been phenomenal, from navigating through Brexit and the pandemic, to steering the business towards record levels of profitability. On behalf of all the team, we wish him a very happy and well-deserved retirement.”

Sodexo delivers on social impact pledges: new three-year report launched #

Sodexo has today published its 2024 Social Impact Report, providing a detailed account of the positive impact created throughout the company’s three-year social value strategy. This strategy – initiated in 2021 with the launch of its latest Social Impact Pledge – underpins Sodexo's commitment, leading the way to improve quality of life for its colleagues, society and the planet.
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the actions Sodexo has taken over the last three years, to create meaningful impact for its people, planet, places and partners.  It showcases compelling data and case studies bringing to life the ways in which the business – in partnership with its clients and suppliers – has addressed a variety of societal challenges.
Developments since 2021 include:
Increasing average spend with SME/VCSE supply partners to 50%, exceeding the 40% target.
Providing over 1,000 hours of mentoring to supply partners and charities with diverse ownership.
Reducing supply chain emissions by 30% since 2017.
Reducing food service Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 21% by increasing sales of sustainable options.
Investing in the Starting Fresh programme to encourage even more businesses and Sodexo managers to employ 567 prison leavers within six weeks of release, and 701 within six months of leaving prison.
Donating over £1.1 million to charity partners and social enterprises, supporting 105 organisations through the Stop Hunger Foundation.
Graduating 643 apprentices by ensuring appropriate vacancies and job roles are considered for apprenticeships.
Gifting £2.28 million of apprenticeship levy to support small and not-for-profit organisations.
Co-founding the cross-industry BSA Modern Slavery Council, which now has 20-plus members collectively representing two billion employees. 

In 2025, Sodexo will announce the next phase of its social impact strategy, with commitments that focus on existing and emerging issues that align with the company’s responsibilities and priorities as a leading provider of sustainable food services and valued experiences. This will mark Sodexo’s tenth year of publicly pledging its social impact commitments.
First published in 2015 as the Public Service Pledge, the business has openly reported on its progress against the pledges each year, demonstrating with evidence and examples the positive impact it is creating.
Commenting on the report, Sean Haley, CEO of Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: "The positive impact showcased in this report represents three years of my colleagues’ ambition and hard work – I find it both extraordinary and humbling.
Sodexo has always been a purpose-led business, but since 2021 we have seen a real shift in how deeply ingrained and essential social impact has become – this is reflected in our day-to-day operations.
“I am confident that every contract we retain, or win is – in part at least – in recognition of the quantified and tangible positive social impact we deliver in partnership with our clients and suppliers. 
“Our various commitments, such as accelerating the decarbonisation of our business to achieve our net zero target sooner and recruiting more ex-offenders into our business, drives us to continue making progress.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone in our ecosystem involved in creating maximum social impact—our colleagues, clients, suppliers, and charity partners. Thank you for making this all possible.”

Steve Chalke MBE, founder of Oasis Community Learning, a Multi-Academy Trust currently operating 53 academies across the country, added: “Oasis has found a soulmate in Sodexo. Thirteen years ago, we began our partnership through a contract to provide food services for our academies. As our relationship grew, we discovered a shared passion for tackling poverty and creating opportunities for all.
“Over the years, this has led to numerous initiatives in our schools and communities. Oasis works in low-income areas where many families live below the poverty line. This means food insecurity is an everyday issue, and school holidays can put parents under even more financial pressure, increasing the risk of children going hungry. Each summer, Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation helps us provide free lunches and activities for children. Additionally, Sodexo’s WasteWatch programme reduces food waste in our schools and inspires students to have a positive impact on the planet.”

Ken Love, Managing Director at Change Please, said: “We are incredibly proud to have Sodexo as one of our most important commercial & impact partners. Sodexo embodies social value, delivering meaningful change through their operations. This commitment is evident throughout their business.
“Change Please benefits greatly from Sodexo's support in various ways. In 2023, their coffee sales alone funded 60 months of support for our beneficiaries. They provided volunteers for employability workshops, offered work experience and employment in Manchester, and placed digital collection tins across their sites to collect funds for Change Please in partnership with Stop Hunger Foundation.
“Sodexo's support goes far beyond buying our coffee. Their passion for doing more with Change Please makes them a joy to work with and highly regarded by all of us. Thank you, Sodexo!”

Paul Coombs, VP Facilities, Real Estate, and Infrastructure Projects (Helicopters) at Leonardo UK, said: “Leonardo is committed to working in collaboration with industry to create value and make a positive impact on our people and the environment. We work alongside Sodexo to elevate the way businesses adopt effective social mobility practices for all members of our communities, regardless of their background. As such, it is paramount that our supply partners are aligned with our values and take action to ensure inclusivity and sustainability.
“Through our partnership with Sodexo, Leonardo UK has seen first-hand their impressive commitment to creating positive social impact in so many different ways. We are proud of the work we do together as Purpose Coalition members alongside the Rt Hon Justine Greening and her team.”

View the full 2024 Social Impact Report.

Compass hosts roundtable to support Armed Forces community #

To mark Armed Forces Week (24th – 29th June), Compass Group UK & Ireland has hosted 14 organisations representing sectors such as facilities management, education and charity - to discuss what more they can do to support the Armed Forces community, including veterans, reservists, spouses and dependants.

The event, hosted at Compass’ HQ in Chertsey, gave participants the opportunity to share ideas, best practice and policies on how to continue to move the dial in supporting people associated with the Armed Forces – in particular spouses. Camilla Howard, Chair of Compass’ Armed Forces Community organised and led the conversation, with the aim of establishing a more formal network together going forward.

Camilla Howard, Chair of Compass’ Armed Forces Community added: “This event is taking our commitments to the next level. We’re now working closely with likeminded organisations, to share the work we’re all doing to see how we can better collaborate.

“Our roundtable event was the first step in us joining together and creating a wider network of organisations to support those linked to the Armed Forces. What was particularly insightful was thinking about how we can retain talent including spouses, especially if a partner is posted to a new location. We have over 1,000 people in our business who are either veterans, reservists, Cadet Force Volunteers or are part of an Armed Forces family - so it’s really important that as an employer, we do all that we can to support these colleagues and their families.”

Compass signed the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme in 2016, securing gold status in 2018 – which was revalidated this year. Compass’ pledges include:

Spouses – a specific policy that enhances support through the commitment to endeavour to redeploy military spouses to an alternative role internally on notification of posting and providing an additional leave day to support pre-post deployments.
Military Families – introduction of military family days – working in partnership with clients providing families with days out at high profile venues.
Recruitment of veterans – enhancing support for those leaving the military, through access to webinars, guidance and work placements.
Ongoing support to its reservists through the provision of 10 days leave to support with training.
Widening partnerships with key military charities and recruitment partners – Forces Families Jobs, Career Transition Partnership, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Naval Families Federation, The White Ensign and SSAFA.

Sodexo named in Top 50 Employer of Veterans list #

Sodexo UK & Ireland has made the GREAT British Employers of Veterans Top 50 list for 2024. The list, in its second year, is compiled by the organisers of the Ex-forces in Business Awards which were held on the 27th of June.
The list was created to provide a comprehensive guide to the leading companies in which military veterans and other members of the Armed Forces family can build a meaningful career. The 2024 list was the first time employers were ranked in order of achievement.
Sodexo, ranked 17 in the list, employs over 500 veterans across its organisation in all its business segments, roles and grades. Sodexo provides many opportunities to develop and grow in new roles whilst allowing people to draw on the valuable knowledge, skills and experience they have gained in their military careers.
Over 150 Forces Friendly employers applied to be included in the list.  A judging panel of 20 veterans assessed the entries and formulated the ranking of the Top 50 Employers of Veterans in the UK. The top 50 employers feature in a dedicated book which was launched on 27 June at the MilFest 2024 conference and provides veterans with valuable information for any veterans seeking their next career move.
Paul Anstey, CEO Government, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are extremely proud and delighted to be included in this list. Supporting the Armed Forces plays a key part of our Social Impact Pledge.
“We recognise the value veterans can bring to our business and continue to focus on providing civilian career opportunities where we can. Our goal is to ensure our people feel like they belong, enable them to act with purpose and to thrive in their careers with us.”

The values of veterans and employees with military connections align strongly with Sodexo’s company values of service spirit, team spirit and spirit of progress.  The transferable skill that veterans bring include:
A strong work ethic with agility, respect for others, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, integrity and sound judgement 
A calm and considered approach when working under pressure 
Ability to engage and lead or be a part of a team striving to achieve a goal or task
Specialist areas, training and experience including leadership skills, communications, IT/computer skills, statistical analysis, network security, language skills, first aid, health & safety, personnel management and HGV licences.  

Sodexo is committed to supporting the armed forces community and was an early signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant.  As a partner to the military for over 30 years Sodexo continually looks to support and provide employment opportunities at every level to those leaving the military.
Sodexo was an early signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant and since 2017 Sodexo has held the Gold Employer Recognition Award by the Ministry of Defence in recognition of its commitment and efforts to support the - Armed Forces community through its strong employment policies.  It was one of the first organisations to be awarded gold.  Its policies and initiatives include:
the positive recruitment of ex-military personnel
the provision of employment opportunities for the spouses of service personnel posted into areas where Sodexo holds a contract
a flexible approach to granting leave for employees which are members of the Reserves
an employee Reservist and Military network, Military Connections, giving a voice to those in Sodexo’s workforce that are reserves, veterans, families of serving personnel as well as those with a connection or interest in the military. This network provides representation from this unique group to ensure Sodexo’s policies and ways of working are inclusive to their needs 
member of the IWFM Veterans in FM network
a partnership approach to supporting service charities such as SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, which it has been a partner to for over 15 years and provides valuable support through:

sponsorship, volunteering and fundraising activities
financial support for the charity’s homelessness fund through the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation 
a number of Sodexo employees also participate in SSAFA’s mentoring scheme to help individuals transitioning from the military into civilian life

Since 2019 Sodexo has supported the charity’s Friendly to Forces campaign, aimed at encouraging more UK companies to challenge their perceptions of hiring service leavers 

At this year’s Ex-forces in Business awards four of Sodexo’s employees were shortlisted:
Sarah Geddes, accommodation cell administrator, Akrotiri (Cyprus) – Lifetime Achievement
Dale Hegarty, senior continuous improvement manager (food services), defence – Outstanding Achiever of the Year
Andy Lowe, service manager Akrotiri (Cyprus) – Business Leader of the Year
David Smart, deputy director HMP Forest Bank – Team Leader of the Year. Sadly David passed away earlier this year, his nomination is a testament to his dedication, professionalism and inspiring positive energy.

FEA joins Make UK's call for new government to create an industrial strategy #

Lack of a plan is UK's ‘Achilles heel'

The UK needs a comprehensive industrial strategy - that's the message to the new government from FEA, Make UK and other associations that represent UK manufacturers.  In an open letter to Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, and Jonathan Reynolds, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade, they call for a skills revolution to be at the core of the new strategy, since the skills shortage is a critical issue for many companies in the manufacturing sector. 

The UK is the only major economy not to have an industrial strategy - and the letter describes this lack as the country's Achilles heel.  "Germany, China, the US… all the G7 countries have a long-term national manufacturing plan," says Paul Anderson, chair of FEA.  "A thriving industrial base is vital to the success of the wider economy.  If we are to compete on a global stage, a national strategy for industry is imperative."

The letter points out how important the manufacturing sector is to UK PLC: it contributed £224bn of gross value added in 2023, employs 2.6 million people and is a major driver of innovation.  The sector's ambitious aim is to boost manufacturing's contribution to GDP from 10% to 15% by the end of the next decade. Achieving this target would inject an additional £142 billion into the UK economy, proving that manufacturing growth goes hand in hand with increased prosperity for all. 

"An industrial strategy is central to these aims," says Anderson.  "The UK manufacturing sector has proved its ability to adapt and grow, even in the toughest of conditions.  During the pandemic it was indispensable, supplying essential goods such as food and life-saving medicines and equipment. The global supply chain disruptions highlighted the critical role UK-based manufacturing plays in ensuring our economic resilience.

"An industrial strategy, backed by smart policies and inspiring the very best of the country's young talent, can pave the way for a brighter, greener, and more prosperous future for all."

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 

For more information on Make UK visit 

Caterfood Buying Group further strengthens its portfolio with the acquisition of Turner Price #

Caterfood Buying Group, the independent buying group arm of Bidcorp UK, has announced the acquisition of Turner Price, a food and drink wholesaler servicing over 2,500 customers across the Midlands and North of England.

Having opened its doors in 1992, Turner Price offers an impressive range of over 8,000 products including fresh and chilled produce, as well as store cupboard ingredients. The business becomes the latest addition to join the successful Caterfood Buying Group network, following on from the acquisition of Harvest Fine Foods and Thomas Ridley Foodservice in 2023.

Philip Atyeo, Managing Director of Caterfood Buying Group commented: “It is fantastic to welcome the Turner Price team into Caterfood Buying Group, a growing network of independent businesses which includes Thomas Ridley Foodservice, Harvest Fine Foods, Nichol Hughes, Elite Fine Foods, Caterfood, South Lincs Foodservice and Cimandis.

“Turner Price is a highly successful foodservice supplier and delivers a great service proposition to its loyal customers. The business will continue to operate as an autonomous and independent business, in line with our decentralised model in the business.”

Andrew Selley, CEO of Bidcorp UK said: “Caterfood Buying Group continues to go from strength-to-strength and the addition of Turner Price will further cement the groups’ position within the industry.

“This latest acquisition is in line with the Bidcorp UK strategy to continue to grow the buying group side to national coverage, as well as increasing our network of manufacturing businesses, following our recent acquisition of Northern Bloc Ice Cream Limited earlier this month. The growth in these areas will allow us to continue to deliver service excellence to our customers and provide them with real added value.”

John Gould, Managing Director at Turner Price added: “We are delighted to become part of Caterfood Buying Group, which shares our passion for customer led focus, harnessing strong supplier relationships, supporting staff development and ensuring that work is enjoyed by all.

“We feel this is the right time for us to be joining the Caterfood Buying Group, and are very much looking forward to continuing to build on the growth we have enjoyed and to further improve our customer offering.”

Turner Price will become the eighth member of the group and will begin operating under Caterfood Buying Group as of 1st July 2024.

Saraca – a Grenadian small plates concept - wins Lexington’s Casual Dining Competition 2024 #

At the finals of Lexington’s Casual Dining Competition, the team that created Saraca, a food concept that celebrates the spirit of the Spice Island Grenada, was crowned as 2024’s winner.  The winning team will witness the introduction of its concept across the business and will also be presented with £1,000 to celebrate.
Saraca combines the authentic flavours of Chef Jacqui’s Grenadian roots with dishes that feature aromatic notes of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, which are the heart of Grenadian cuisine. The small plates concept celebrates Grenada’s communal food culture, inviting diners to come together and savour traditional Grenadian dishes.
In its third year, Lexington’s Casual Dining competition is a team event which is open to participants from all sites across Lexington’s Business & Industry business. Each team is briefed to create a new casual dining concept - complete with a menu, uniform, marketing and mobilisation plans – and the six new brands that reach the final are then rolled out across the wider business. 
In total 35 teams initially submitted written entries; 12 teams were then selected to showcase their concepts to the judges and six finalists were chosen to attend the final at OKN1, a collaborative kitchen and award-winning dining space at New City College, Hackney, and the home of Lexington’s Chef School.
This year included a new element, the inclusion of a concept created by chef students based at New City College, providing them with the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills.  Jesal and Razmin combined modern cooking techniques with traditional Indian and Bangladeshi flavours and ingredients to enable customers to experience their culinary heritage.
The six Casual Dining Competition finalists were judged by a prestigious panel of industry experts including: Sia (Simisola Idowu-Ajibodu), chef and entrepreneur; Druv Baker, Former MasterChef winner and co-founder of Tempus; Neil Rankin, creative director at Symplicity Foods, chef and restaurateur; James Golding, former chef director of the Pig Hotel group and current head of food education at the Table Talk Foundation and Michal Seal, Elior’s marketing and commercial director. Over 150 clients and guests attended the finals and sampled food concepts developed by the finalists and voted for their favourite brand which accounted for 30% of the final score.
Matt Wood, Managing Director of Lexington, said; “This competition is a highlight in our calendar as it showcases the extraordinary expertise and creativity that exists at Lexington.
“We have already rolled out 20 casual dining concepts, created by Lexington colleagues, over the last three years. I am so proud of the amazing talent we have within the business, and it is brilliant to be able to provide a platform for this expertise to flourish.”

Jacqui Fraser, development chef for Saraca, said: “We created the Grenadian concept to show who we are as a country and share our cultural identity. Grenada might be a little island, but we have some big flavours! We wanted to translate our presence into food and bring something different to this competition.”
“Every year we see great food and great flavours at the Casual Dining Competition, but this year the marketing efforts are better than ever. So much thought and dedication has gone into creating these brilliant brands.” Michal Seal, marketing director, Elior
The other five finalists created original, diverse concepts ranging from Japanese and British fusion food, contemporary Baltic cuisine, savoury, international flavoured doughnuts, Bangkok street food to modern Spanish, Basque inspired dishes.

Sodexo report explores the lived experience challenges facing our Armed Forces today #

As a nation, we have always celebrated our Armed Forces, but, with 7,000 more people leaving the military than joining last year, our Armed Forces are facing a recruitment and retention crisis. The lived experience – the experience of service personnel on the sites where they both live and work – plays a significant part in people’s decision whether they want to join, or continue to serve.
To address these challenges Sodexo convened 21 leaders from across the military community, including the future lived experience lead for the Army, Brigadier James Cook, currently serving and retired officers and non-commissioned officers, industry experts, the Civil Service, the third sector, including the confederation of service charities, Cobseo Chair Sir Nick Pope, academia and beyond, to explore the challenges of the lived experience, and how we can address them.
Three themes were identified and discussed at a roundtable hosted by Sodexo earlier this year:
Barriers between the armed forces and society: The armed forces need to better convey their purpose, their values, and why a typical person should view a career in the military as being worthwhile. It is only through closing the gap between the military and the society it protects, that recruitment and retention will improve. 

The changing expectations of serving personnel: Satisfaction with service life in general has fallen for the second year running, dropping to 42%.  Much of a service person’s life is within a military base, and therefore facilities play a crucial role in providing the setting for those expectations to be met. 

Improving the lived experience through external partnerships: With the increasing complexity of life, and changing expectations of a younger generation, the Armed Forces will need to work with local communities, and other external organisations, to meet expectations. 

The insights shared from the roundtable have informed a white paper, The Future Lived Experience and the UK’s Armed Forces in the 2030s, which has been published this week as the country celebrates Armed Forces Week.
The white paper outlines the insights across three chapters covering the above topics in detail. These three concepts form a framework through which we can now identify the solutions which could be applied across the Defence estate to improve the lived experience, address falling recruitment and retention, and, ultimately, secure operational capability in the 2030s and beyond.
Lieutenant General Sir Nick Pope KCB CBE, Chair of COBSEO and Military Advisor to the Haythornthwaite Review said: “I was very pleased to be part of this important conversation, convened by Sodexo, examining how we can collectively improve the lived experience of personnel on UK Armed Forces bases to help underpin retention and recruitment. I look forward to the further debate it generates because if we don’t get our people system right, we face an increasing threat to the ongoing viability of our Armed Forces, and our ability to defend our nation.”
Later on in the year, Sodexo plans to bring together a wider group of stakeholders to discuss these themes and explore others and help to influence the wider questions posed by this white paper.
Mark Baker, Chief Operating Officer Defence, Sodexo UK & Ireland adds: “We see it as a core part of our business to work with partners and wider stakeholders to do all that we can to improve the lived experience for our Armed Forces, and help deliver a standard that they expect, and of which we can be proud.
“This is a conversation that is only just beginning. We will continue to bring together key players, to understand the challenges, offer options and identify solutions. But what is clear already is that, without the right lived experience, we will really struggle to maintain a capable military force that’s ready to face the challenges of the future.”

For more than 30 years, Sodexo has supported the Armed Forces, delivering strong, effective operational capability, through the provision of excellent food and facilities management.  It supports individuals, the community, and the environment at military sites across the UK and overseas, working with military leaders to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of personnel across all military services.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls joins industry leaders in a call to arms to transform the perception of hospitality careers #

Five hospitality heavyweights gathered for an inspiring and thought-provoking discussion focused on transforming the perception of hospitality careers and attracting more young talent to the industry. The panel event took centre stage at the 2024 Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or awards ceremony earlier this month, creating the perfect setting to deliver a powerful message to more than 240 industry professionals.
The panel, which was chaired by TV presenter Mark Durden-Smith, featured UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls OBE, Nestlé Professional managing director Katya Simmons, Sodexo’s food innovation & sustainability director David Mulcahy, Chef Publishing editor Claire Bosi and CORE recruitment managing director Krishnan Doyle.
Each speaker brought unique insights and perspectives on how to reshape the narrative around hospitality careers, while all believing that in order to attract more young talent, greater collaboration was needed. “You can’t be what you can’t see”, said Kate Nicholls, highlighting the important role young professionals in hospitality have to play in inspiring the next generation. “We’re already doing some fantastic work to sell our industry to school pupils, but we need more young ambassadors to step forward and go into schools themselves, as they’re closer in age and more relatable. So collaboration is key”, she went onto say.
Katya Simmons shared the successes of Nestlé Professional’s youth initiatives, Toque d’Or and the Choose Hospitality Pledge, which aim to transform young people’s perceptions of hospitality careers. She commented: “This year has been a great success with almost 400 entries to the Toque d’Or competition. Together with the Choose Hospitality Pledge, which we co-founded with Chef Publishing and Springboard, we are doing our best to inspire young talent and help them land exciting roles with fantastic career progression opportunities. However, our industry is highly fragmented, dynamic and creative which means we need to come together if we’re to make the desired impact. For example, the Choose Hospitality Pledge depends on you – brilliant people from across our industry – to take what we’re doing to transform the perception of hospitality careers, from strength to strength.”
David Mulcahy spoke passionately about the vast career opportunities available in hospitality. Using the platform as an opportunity to inspire young people, he said: “Don’t limit your thinking to what you can do or where you can go in your careers. Hospitality is the industry that lets you do anything you want. There are plenty of stepping stones and opportunities for people starting out, so I urge anyone considering a career in hospitality to take on the mindset ‘I’m here, help me, train me, develop me.” Shedding light on some of the work Sodexo is doing in this area, David said: “In partnership with the Choose Hospitality Pledge, we’re delivering mass career workshops at key stadia sites, including Everton’s Goodison Park, Newcastle United’s St James’ Park and Brighton & Hove Albion’s American Express Stadium. It’s fantastic work that enables us to give young people and their influencers – teachers and parents – more choices and opportunities to thrive.”
Claire Bosi addressed the media’s role in shaping perceptions of the industry. “Mainstream media often fails to portray chefs as happy characters. Hospitality has changed, and the opportunities to grow are endless. It’s not just front-of-house and back-of-house; there’s a place for social media, textiles, mathematics, finance, technology and more. To address this, Claire went onto say: “We need more communication – more positive communication – to ensure young people and their parents are aware of the broad range of career opportunities available in hospitality”.
Krishnan Doyle shared his personal insights on the entrepreneurial spirit required to thrive in hospitality. He said “Hospitality is one of those industries that doesn’t hold you back, regardless of your skill level. You need to push yourself, almost thinking like you’re an entrepreneur, and not be afraid to ask for promotions at the right time and be inquisitive. With the right mindset, you can go far in hospitality.”
The roundtable concluded with a shared agreement on the challenges and opportunities to improve the perception of hospitality as an aspirational career choice for young people. The key solution, however, was greater industry-wide collaboration to ensure young people get the information and support they need to be able to make informed decisions regarding their careers.

St Leonards School, St Andrews selects Sodexo for new £4.6m catering contract #

Independents by Sodexo has been awarded a £4.6 million, five-year contract to deliver catering services at St Leonards School in St Andrews.
St Leonards was founded in 1887 and currently has 600 pupils, aged 5-18 and provides a ‘home from home’ boarding experience for 150 pupils.
The new contract will see Independents by Sodexo introduce a brand new menu with a wide range of dishes with a focus on fresh, seasonal and nutritious food from 20th August 2024.
Independents by Sodexo will cater for pupils and staff, offering breakfast, lunch, supper as well as options for both morning and afternoon breaks. Age appropriate, varied and flexible menus have been designed to recognise pupil tastes at different stages of school life, as well as the international reach of the school community.
Driving sustainability is core to the partnership. Sodexo is committed to 33% of its main meals being plant-based by 2025 and will be introducing dishes such as BBQ jackfruit and roasted squash and aubergine madras at St Leonards, as well as other vegan, vegetarian and free-form dishes.
Reducing food waste will be a focus through WasteWatch, Sodexo’s food waste management programme, which will enable the school catering team at St Leonards to minimise waste from improved kitchen practices. This will be supported by communications for pupils to help educate and encourage them to be mindful when choosing their meals to avoid unnecessary waste.
Independents by Sodexo will also support the School with hospitality and special events services such as Sixth Form balls and weekend match teas for sports.
Simon Knight, managing director for Independents by Sodexo, said: "We are thrilled to bring our passion and expertise to the St Leonards community and to support them in their goal to bring out the best in each pupil. Our services have been designed to support the culture of the School with a clear focus on wellbeing, enhancing learning, investing in people, collaboration and driving sustainability. 
“St Leonards has a pioneering educational heritage and is rooted in the local community. We look forward to the start of term and to serve pupils with a brand new menu focused on sustainable, nutritious and delicious food.”

Simon Brian, Head of St Leonards School added: "We are delighted to partner with Independents by Sodexo. We were impressed by their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship and their focus on enhancing student wellbeing and the learning environment through food."
St Leonards is a centre of excellence for boarding research, with a particular focus on supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.