Elior UK has made its first serious move into the state school market by winning an estimated £500,000-worth of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) business in Swindon, Wiltshire.
The deal saw Elior's Avenance education and healthcare division sign seven new-build primary, special and secondary school contracts.
Simon Pollard, managing director of Avenance education, said the move was made possible by the extra Government funding in the state sector. "As food budgets continue to increase in the state sector we are now able to take our fresh food product into this market."
Food service consultant Peter Pitham welcomed the move. "The more companies coming into the sector, the better the choice for schools," he said.
But consultant Vic Laws said the fact Elior had signed PFI deals didn't necessarily signal a move into the local education authority market. "Not only do PFI contracts have brand-new kitchens, they are longer, and so involve less risk. The mentality is also very different, because caterers are accountable to the facilities management company not the headmaster."