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Eurest's Morag Freathy wins the Foodservice Caterer Award


As seen in The Caterer.

Freathy joined Eurest's parent company Compass Group UK and Ireland in 2010 to take on the role of strategic retention director and managing director of growth markets. She left the group in 2016,but returned as managing director of Eurest a year later.

Upon Freathy's appointment in 2017, the company wasn't performing well; finances and staff morale were low, and client relationships were strained. Freathy re-evaluated what Eurest stood for and what it wanted to be. With support from Compass Group, she requested new hires, steered Eurest towards a new focus on health, wellbeing and sustainability, and pushed for the brand to be known as a foodie business that cared about nutritious and exciting food in workplace restaurants.

Another factor was a statistic she discovered which found FTSE 100 companies are more successful than their rivals if they focus on health and wellbeing. Freathy saw this as important where access to healthy and innovative on-site food and drink is often cited as a key employee benefit. With Compass Group providing more than 4.5 million meals a year, Eurest had a huge role to play in improving people's health and wellbeing.

When the first lockdown arrived, Freathy saw this as the ideal time to reach out and talk to external experts to help re-set the culture. Research discussions took place with psychologists, nutritionists, and scientists from Oxford and Cambridge universities.

"It was a time of innovation and showed that my team are massively resilient," she said. "Some were going through personal challenges in the pandemic, but they were committed and passionate about their roles. They really cared. That gave me the belief that we could drive successful change."

Since 2020, Eurest has redirected its focus towards plant-based menus, a food waste programme and ambitious net zero goals.

As part of Eurest's health, wellbeing and sustainability ethos, Freathy worked with Eurest's culinary director Ryan Holmes to create the Plantilicious menu. Now, 51% of Eurest's menus are plant-based, up from 30% in 2019. Food waste has been reduced by almost 20% over the past year, equating to 36.5 tonnes of food waste, helping Eurest deliver its commitment to be net zero by 2030.

Though not immune to the pressures of the pandemic and subsequent rising food costs, Freathy's redirection of Eurest is paying off: the company grew by 21% in 2021 and again by 10% in 2022. It won £25m of new business over the last year and Freathy has delivered 10% growth over that period, also retaining a long list of high-profile clients.

An operator with considerable environmental and social conscience, Freathy deserves her place among the illustrious list of Foodservice Caterer Award winners.

What the judges said

"Morag stood out as having driven huge cultural change within a big corporation, with a real focus on food, CSR and people." Phil Roker

"The results speak for themselves. Morag has overdelivered where many would have struggled. A deserved winner among strong competition." Frank Bothwell

The shortlist

  • Morag Freathy, Eurest
  • Alex Head, Social Pantry
  • Simon Houston & Dave Hawkes, Houston & Hawkes
  • Paul Robottom, Signature Dining

Eurest's Morag Freathy wins the Foodservice Caterer Award at Cateys 2023 - The Caterer

Morag Freathy with her team