THE UK managing director behind one of the world’s largest catering companies has told how the conference and banqueting sector is resurgent after enjoying a period of sustained growth.
Chris John, of Sodexo Prestige, was speaking to an audience of industry influencers at the launch of the firm’s new premium service, Prestige Venues & Events (PV&E).
More than 200 guests were treated to a showcase of the fine dining produced by Sodexo Prestige’s team of executive chefs to coincide with the launch of this new premium service offer; a bespoke solution for the sports, leisure, conference and events market, ensuring a streamlined booking and contact system for 50 of the UK’s best venues.
Chris told guests at the exclusive launch event, in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms: “We design and deliver solutions tailored to various high profile events across Scotland as well the entire UK. From the Ryder Cup and the Open to the Scottish Food Oscars, the conference and banqueting industry has been sparked back into life giving our business the chance to create a new experience for our customers.
“It’s because of this strong focus on our local teams around the world that we continue to grow as a business. In the UK in particular we’ve spent a lot of time listening and understanding our client’s needs and expectations, resulting in the launch of our new service in the UK, Prestige Venues & Events.
“Perhaps more importantly, by showcasing these talents we been able to create an offer that gives our customers the reassurance that the same highly skilled and engaged teams across the board will help deliver events for any occasion and size, helping the business to grow even further throughout 2014 and beyond.”
As well as enjoying a record year with growth of £2.7m in sales, Scotland will also play host to a new Sodexo Prestige enquiry hub. The new service, based in South Queensferry just outside of Edinburgh, aims to make it even easier to find a venue, from a secluded castle to an executive box at a Premier League football club. It also includes a dedicated central team available online or by phone to answer any queries whilst providing real-time advice.
Austin Tilsley, regional director of Sodexo Prestige in Scotland, explained: “Prestige Venues & Events is Sodexo’s new premium service offer. This bespoke service will ensure exceptional quality standards across all the services we deliver throughout the UK.
“We want to constantly raise the bar for our clients and customers and continue to make significant investment in areas of growth to improve the customer experience.
“Making these changes now, especially with the recent Scottish sales figures, will not only enhance the business but will also improve personal reputations of our clients and customers.”
The main feature of the launch party was the food served to the guests – with four main themes- a fine dining area, an edible garden, a seafood banquet and a hydration station.
Executive chefs – including Stephen Frost, Tom Beauchamp, Ben Dutson and Trevor Garden – designed dishes including goat cheese ice cream, truffle popcorn, foie gras profiteroles with sour cherry and almond cream, beetroot macaroons and parmesan mille feuille.
A crucial element of PV&E is to use locally sourced and sustainable produce wherever possible, so the launch event also featured Loch Fyne oysters, Inverawe Smoke house trout, Lanark blue cheese and a selection of Ayrshire charcuterie.
Stephen Frost, executive chef for Scotland, said: “At Sodexo Prestige we pride ourselves on using the finest local produce in all of our dishes. That’s why we decided to serve up some of the best food sourced from right here on our doorstep.
“Scotland has such a rich larder that we intend to take full advantage of it whenever possible. We also like to create exciting new flavour infusions such as goat cheese ice cream and parmesan mille feuille, constantly pushing our skills to new levels to keep our clients coming back for more.
“The launch of Prestige Venues & Events has given us a real chance to showcase the innovation and talent our executive team has to offer. It has also allowed us to build and deliver a new standard in customer experience that we look forward to introducing to all our clients.”
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Sodexo in the UK and Ireland
Sodexo employs over 35,000 people, and delivers quality of life services to clients at some 2,300 locations in the corporate, healthcare, education, leisure, justice and defence sectors.
With an annual turnover of over £1bn, Sodexo delivers a range of services ranging from catering, cleaning, reception to asset management, security, laboratory and grounds maintenance services, enabling clients to focus on their core business.
Sodexo Motivation Solutions in the UK provides benefit and reward services such as SayShopping vouchers; public benefits; and employee benefits such as childcare vouchers and engagement surveys.
Founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo is the global leader in services that improve Quality of Life, an essential factor in individual and organizational performance. Operating in 80 countries, Sodexo serves 75 million consumers each day through its unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Through its more than 100 services, Sodexo provides clients an integrated offering developed over more than 45 years of experience: from reception, safety, maintenance and cleaning, to foodservices and facilities and equipment management; from Meal Pass, Gift Pass and Mobility Pass benefits for employees to in-home assistance and concierge services. Sodexo’s success and performance are founded on its independence, its sustainable business model and its ability to continuously develop and engage its 428,000 employees throughout the world.
Sodexo worldwide Key figures (August 31, 2013)
18.4 billion euro consolidated revenue
18th largest employer worldwide
75 million consumers served daily
11.4 billion euro market capitalization (as of November 13, 2013)
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