Chris Chidley – Chief Growth Officer, Compass Group UK & Ireland as featured in The Caterer
We can’t move for doom and gloom headlines – the geopolitical backdrop, inflation on the rise, energy prices rocketing and concerns around an imminent recession. Yet, encouragingly at Compass we’re seeing new business for food and support services going through a period of significant growth, especially in relation to first time outsourcing partnerships. I believe that outsourcing can continue to thrive in this economic climate.
Our business, Compass Group, can trace its roots back to World War II and was started out of the need to feed workers in munitions factories. Jack Bateman, the founder of the then ‘Factory Canteens’, wanted to lift workers’ spirits through nutritious food, while also creating a successful business. When rationing made more established meals harder to prepare, new ones were innovatively created and the factory restaurants became places to come together and create cheer.
By the 1950s and 60s contract catering was viewed as an entirely new industry, evolving from the fundamental need to feed people well – wherever they worked and congregated.
We all know recent years have posed huge challenges for our industry. As we moved into the post Covid era, we began to see clients wanting to return to solely focus on their areas of expertise and understandably, they didn’t want to worry about catering as well.
There are many myths surrounding outsourcing, with outdated views associating us with cost savings and low quality. This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you outsource to experts – you should be getting high quality services, with the people to deliver it. Our team is the best in industry for creating solutions for clients and it’s essential to be surrounded by the most diverse and talented team.
Modern outsourcing is an area of innovation. It’s about our ability to create amazing experiences, enduring partnerships and the value we can deliver on people, planet and wellbeing. It’s this shift in attitude, that is bringing an extraordinary growth opportunity for our industry.
Outsourcing catering and support services enables clients to solely focus on the issues their business is currently facing, around managing the impact of life post Covid, heightened inflation and their operational challenges. Working with the right partner should enable organisations to focus on their core business.
Against this challenging backdrop, innovation will continue to be critical, demonstrating time and time again to our clients why we operate smarter. We’re using technology to drive efficiencies, but importantly alongside this we are also investing in the future – through our amazing people and the commitment to deliver on sustainability targets.
I know we’re facing into many challenges, but I am optimistic about the opportunities the coming months will bring and I think Compass’ story demonstrates that sometimes out of the toughest of times, comes the most inspiring change, that will ultimately lead to growth.