Venue caterer Ampersand recently won a £60m deal with the Royal Historic Palaces. Alison Tyler, co-managing director of parent company CH&Co, spoke to Janie Stamford
Congratulations on the contract. What does it mean for Ampersand? It gives the team and brand the recognition they truly deserve and we are thrilled to have another fantastic, high-profile client to showcase everything we believe we do well. With HRP on board, Ampersand now has 18 contracts. This year we have also re-tendered and retained two of the original 12, so an excellent year.
How did Ampersand stand out from the crowd? We had a brilliant and dedicated team of experts working on unique ideas and initiatives and I guess we captured the client's imagination. However, it was the mystery visits to some of our other venues that clinched the deal. They needed to be sure that the team really will go that extra mile to promote the reputation of the venue and deliver customer satisfaction. The visits proved this.
How does the new contract fit in with plans to grow Ampersand? It speeds up the plan but there is nothing better than having to rewrite the sales targets for a good reason. We have invested ready for this and it's a great start to our second year. Ampersand is not just about visitor attractions, we have some superb iconic event venues and a growing private events market.
It's one year since CH&Co group was divided into five independent businesses. How have they fared? It was brave, but so right. CH&Co has always had real family values and our team of brand MDs are the "kids" that have grown up and now have their own aspirations to grow the business. Each brand leader has inherited the passion and vision to succeed from Robyn and every business is flourishing.
Does the future look bright for contract catering? Contract catering is now so diverse it offers a great career. Each year we take three graduates and this year one of our graduates won the Springboard Young Guns best placement student in the UK. The opportunities we offer are now fought over and are first choice, ahead of those from hotels and restaurants. You wouldn't have seen that in contract catering 10 years ago.