Frequently Asked Questions
I'd never heard about Compass Group until recently. Has the company been in the foodservice industry for a long time?
The history of Compass Group in the UK dates back to 1941, when Jack Bateman founded factory canteens to feed British workers supporting the war effort. In 1967, the company was acquired by Grand Metropolitan and the catering business became Compass Services in 1984. Following a management buyout of Grand Metropolitan's contract services division in 1987, Compass Group was formed. Compass Group floated on the Stock Exchange a year later. In 1998, the Group became a FTSE 100 company. In July 2000, Compass Group's UK business merged with the catering arm of Granada PLC to become the UK & Ireland division of Compass Group – the UK market leader in foodservice and hospitality.
Compass Group is involved in so many sectors and through so many operating companies, it can be a bit confusing. What is the organisational structure?
Compass Group’s business is organised into four main sectors:
- Eurest Services: workplace dining and support services
- Restaurant Associates: workplace dining, hospitality, business services and hotels
- Sports, leisure and hospitality: retail and hospitality at sporting and leisure venues.
- Specialist markets:
- Education: Chartwells
- Healthcare: Medirest
- Government and Defence: ESS Support Services
- Offshore: ESS Support Services
How do Compass Group's food offers differ from their competitors?
Compass Group provides the widest portfolio of foodservice solutions in the world. We offer a range of our own developed food offers as well as a range of high street brands such as Costa Coffee. Our talented executive chefs can create a range of bespoke solutions or you can choose from our Core Concepts food programme, offering you a range of our own concepts. This programme differs from those of our competitors in that it has been carefully developed to meet customer's needs. We survey over 30,000 customers every year to understand how we can deliver the best solutions to fit the latest culinary trends in the industry. Our Innovation Centre provides a real life experience of the latest brands and concepts available to help us identify the right solutions for you. Using innovative products, systems and technology, we ensure that you receive the very best food offers in the market.
I have always known Compass Group as caterers, but I've heard that the company offers other services as well. What services are these?
It is fair to say that in some sectors, Compass Group is better known for catering services. However, facilities management - or support services as we prefer to call it - is a key part of our offer. Increasingly, our clients are relying on us for a comprehensive range of outsourced support services from professional reception staff to night-time office cleaning. We offer full range of hard and soft services including the following:
- Office services that keep your business connected
- Outdoor services to enhance the surroundings of your business
- Security solutions that deliver confidence and protection
- Cleaning to ensure a hygienic, healthy and safe environment
- Maintenance programmes that deliver solutions before problems occur
- Project management capabilities delivering on time, on budget and on target.
We self perform the majority of these services. This provides us with greater workforce capability, control and accountability to enhance the smooth running of your business.
What is Compass Group's policy on healthy eating?
We know we have an enormous influence on what our customers choose to eat and drink. Health, good nutrition and encouraging a balanced approach to eating are at the heart of our business and our policies reflect this approach. Balanced Choices, our healthy eating programme, offers products and dishes that fit into a more health conscious lifestyle. It also offers more point-of-sale awareness that helps customers choose healthier options. This is supported by our exclusive Steamplicity brand, which uses the latest steam technology to provide a great range of freshly-cooked meals.
How do I know the food Compass serves is not full of hidden nasties like saturated fats and salts?
We have developed our own range of sandwiches and other bakery products with levels of saturated fat and salt that meet the FSA’s targets. By working with our suppliers, we have reduced the amount of saturated fats in our own-label cooking sauces by 80 percent, and also sourced a new cooking oil which is virtually free of trans-fatty acids.
What is Compass Group's approach to animal welfare?
Compass Group UK & Ireland’s animal welfare policy endorses the 'Five Freedoms' concept proposed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) as outlined by Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. The five freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress
What are Compass Group's views on ethical trading?
Compass Group is committed to ensuring that all of our dealings with suppliers - from the point of search and selection, through to supply and payment - are conducted in accordance with our guiding principles of responsible and ethical trading. These criteria are:
- Employment is freely chosen
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is respected
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
- Child labour shall not be used
- Living wages are paid
- Working hours are not excessive
- No discrimination is practised
- Regular employment is provided
- No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
Our ethical good practice is promoted by positive selection of suppliers demonstrating the points noted above, and by the encouragement of best practice amongst all suppliers. We expect our suppliers to adopt a similar position with their supply base and to implement similar internal policies to those in Compass Group.
What is Compass Group's commitment to charity?
In January 2009, Compass Group announced a two year partnership with Cancer Research UK with the aim of raising £250,000 in year one. This is the first time that Compass Group has partnered with a single charity, bringing together employees from over 5,500 locations across the UK to make a real difference by raising a substantial amount of money to help Cancer Research UK continue its life-saving work.
Providing food for the education sector has specific responsibilities. How can I be sure that the food Chartwells provides to my pupils is healthy and nutritious?
We believe that developing a healthy diet and good eating habits early on will lay the foundations for future health. Chartwells supports the development and implementation of Nutritional Standards for school food. Our menus are nutritionally analysed and offer a balance of foods. Schools have the flexibility to adapt our menus to suit the needs of all our customers.
Chartwells strives to use the highest quality, fresh food incorporating seasonal and regional produce where possible. We have a network of national and regional suppliers who we actively work with to reduce the fat, sugar and salt levels of our food against target nutrient specifications set by the Food Standards Agency. We also work to minimise and eliminate, where possible, the use of additives and are continually working towards the removal of trans-fats from within our range of products.
Chartwells believes part of its role as a caterer is to assist in informing and encouraging customers to eat a more varied and balanced diet. This is achieved through education, information provision, promotional activities and focusing on a whole school approach.
The healthcare sector requires specialist services from people with the right qualifications. How are Compass's employees qualified to work in this demanding sector?
Compass employs appropriate personnel from our huge pool of people who are all inducted, paid, trained and managed by us. All are trained and familiar with the specialist demands of the healthcare sector. They have been CRB checked and given the relevant occupational health checks and inoculations. Certain individuals are also trained in first aid and fire fighting.
How does Compass Group train its employees to deliver such high levels of service?
Investing in our people is essential for employee motivation, productivity - and, of course, client satisfaction. The Learning & Development team plays a vital role in giving our people enhanced skills and knowledge through development in the classroom and work-based learning. The team deals with over 5,500 training requests from the business each year. There is a suite of 28 development courses to choose from, that are delivered by twelve regional trainers and three Learning & Development Managers. Find out more about how we develop our people.
The Food Standards Agency estimates 5.5 million people in the UK are affected by food poisoning every year. What does the Compass Group do to prevent food poisoning?
We prevent food poisoning by training all our catering staff on good food hygiene practices. A few of these are outlined below.
- We store food correctly as soon as it is delivered or prepared
- We always adhere to the best before and use by dates
- We cover and label all food
- We keep raw and cooked meat separately
- We ensure food is the right temperature when stored and displayed
- We cook food thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria
- We use different chopping boards for raw and high risk foods
- We sanitise dry chopping boards before storage and between tasks
- We avoid unpasteurised milk and raw eggs
Good hygiene is essential in any catering environment. How does Compass maintain high hygiene levels?
Health and safety is our number one operational priority and all staff are trained to the highest levels of hygiene. JohnsonDiversey has been supplying Compass sites with cleaning chemicals since 2005 and provide effective, innovative hygiene products at good prices. Using the right cleaning chemicals for the right job is important. For example, if we are in a hard water area, we use the right products to ensure we get better cleaning results in a shorter time. The correct chemicals used in dishwashers can make them last longer and prevent engineering repairs.
In the current economic conditions I need to offer my customers a good deal. What can Compass offer in the way of special deals to retain my customers?
Compass designed a great value range Why Pay More to keep the bargain hunting customers in your restaurant. The dishes cost between £2.00 and £2.50 – prices that can easily rival the high street. As well as being great value and delicious, the recipes offered are also every day favourites. Why Pay More was launched in April 2009 and since then it has gone from strength to strength:
- In some units where it’s been launched, it makes up for 50% of all the hot meals sold!
- It has increased the number of times a week customers eat in our restaurants
- Why Pay More gives your customers a value choice alongside other offers, often encouraging them to trade up.
What is Compass' policy on sourcing food regionally?
We are committed to British sourcing where seasonality, availability and quality allow. A significant portion of our food is already sourced from the UK and we aim to buy more great quality British produce. Sourcing food regionally is important to us as a company because it helps us support British farmers as well as maintain a robust supply chain with complete traceability and supplier due diligence. Find out more about how we source our food regionally and responsibly.
Why can't all produce be sourced locally?
We are often asked to use local suppliers and distributors. However, they face the same challenges of seasonality and product availability as we do. It is highly likely that they source their products from the same parts of the world as we do and our produce would have travelled the same distance.
The products we supply cannot always be local. Some fresh products are just not produced in the UK and due to changes in seasons, very little produce is available from the same place for the whole year. We source products outside the country when the product is not grown locally, when it is only grown in the UK for part of the year.
Does Compass Group supply organic produce?
We source Soil Association accredited alternatives to key lines in relevant product categories to meet customer demand for organic produce. These include fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy, and certain manufactured items such as sandwiches, delicatessen products, drinks and snacks. Our supply of organic produce is worth annually approximately £5m and we aspire to grow and maintain this range based on client and consumer demand. All suppliers must ensure, and demonstrate by third party verification, certificates and use of logos, that all organic produce or manufactured product supplied to us complies with production, quality and traceability standards.
What is Compass Group's policy on Fairtrade products?
We strongly support the Fairtrade Foundation. The Fairtrade Mark guarantees that farmers from the developing world are paid a price that covers the cost of production, plus a premium to be spent on community projects such as better healthcare, sanitation or education. We provide a full range of Fairtrade products sourced through our approved suppliers and distributors. In May 2008 we became the first food service operator to move to selling solely Fairtrade bananas. Sales of Fairtrade products are worth approximately £5m, of which bananas are over £1.5m.
In addition to supporting Fairtrade producers, we encourage our main tea and coffee suppliers to work in partnership with growers, offering appropriate technical advice, training and assistance to relevant research projects designed to improve the quality, efficiency and productivity of their farms. This is also a sustainable way of improving the incomes and standard of living of the farmers in the long term.
Compass Group's deliveries always arrive in a Brakes lorry. Does the company source its products from Brakes?
Just because our products arrive in Brakes delivery vehicle, doesn’t mean they are Brakes products. We have a sophisticated model in place that actually makes it easier for small, regional producers to supply our business. To give just a few examples, we source premium sausages from Leicestershire, Cornish ice cream, strawberries from Warwickshire and lettuce from Shropshire. Find out more about how we source our food responsibly.
Why does Compass use Brakes for its deliveries?
It would be too difficult for our small regional suppliers to make their deliveries to our thousands of Compass sites around the UK and Ireland. Instead they make one delivery to our central depot and then we use Brakes’ or 3663’s large delivery vans to take all the products ordered by a particular client directly to their site. This significantly reduces food miles and our impact on the environment. Find out more about our commitment to the environment.
What does Compass Group do to reduce its food miles?
We are actively reducing carbon emissions by consolidating distribution through our two key distributors - 3663 for ambient food and non-food consumables, and Brakes for chilled and frozen foods. Simply put, a vehicle from one of our small suppliers will make a journey to one of our consolidation centres where it will be packed with all the products that need to be delivered to a unit. This means that only one lorry will make a trip to that unit, creating far fewer carbon emissions than all our suppliers delivering directly to a unit. This decreases the number of food miles travelled and reduces our impact on the environment. Both Brakes and 3663 have ISO 14001 which is the highest environmental accreditation and run 30% of their vehicles on bio diesel fuels.
How does Compass Group encourage recycling?
Increasing our recycling of used cooking oil reduces our carbon footprint as the oil is processed to provide a fuel that can power vehicles. We have extensively promoted opportunities for our units to join this scheme and aim to recycle all used cooking oil from our units to power vehicles in our supply chain. We also work on packaging solutions and since June 2008 chilled and frozen foods delivered by Brakes have been arriving in a new buffet box. The box is longer, shallower, has no lid and uses 10% less cardboard.
I have heard that Compass Group manages its business based on a MAP framework – what is this?
Managing & Performance (MAP) is a global performance framework with five key drivers:
- Client Sales & Marketing
- Consumer Sales & Marketing
- Cost of Food
- Unit Costs
- Above Unit Costs
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