The first thing that Amadeus’ food and beverage director Marc Frankl points out when he begins talking about the company’s catering operations is that he is an ex-chef. For that reason, the kitchen estate is precisely where it all starts for him. “It is absolutely vital that we make sure we give the chefs the kit that they need to produce the fantastic food we provide to our customers,” he says, stressing that the close relationship between the company’s operations and chef teams is vital to determining what is viable from an equipment perspective.
Part of the larger NEC Group since 1976, the group’s so-called ‘home venues’ — the NEC, the ICC, the LG Arena and the Barclaycard Arena — deliver the majority of sales. But the rate at which it is picking up work outside of those sites, particularly with external visitor attractions and meeting venues, has made the market sit up and take notice. “It is obviously an ambition of ours to continue that trend because we need to grow outside of the group,” acknowledges Marc. “We are involved in new tenders and have clear aspirations to grow.”
The company is certainly not afraid of doing things differently, thinking more like a retail operator than a traditional caterer in a bid to remain innovative and keep the offering interesting for customers. New catering concepts tapping into the street food trend were introduced to the NEC earlier this year, while a unique beverage dispense system boosted alcohol sales by an extra £35,000 when it was introduced for a week of pop concerts back in May. When it comes to keeping on top of its vastly-growing catering equipment needs, Marc has a clear policy for making sure that each site is specified on its own merits.
“I will work either with our own staff or with the client to come up with kit that we believe is going to work and then establish from a mobilisation perspective when it needs to be installed. From a budget perspective I need to make sure that we are not spending more than we promised, while operationally the challenge is usually to put as much in as we can while obviously being very mindful of power loadings, heat dispersion and other technical issues. We need to work within those boundaries to maximise what we have in our [catering] areas,” he says.
“The challenge is usually to put as much in as we can while obviously being very mindful of power loadings, heat dispersion and other technical issues”