Independent catering group, CH&CO has been awarded the catering and hospitality contract at Harrogate Convention Centre, the diverse conference, exhibition, event and entertainment venue.
The new deal, which is worth £10m in turnover over the duration of the contract, strengthens CH&CO’s foothold in the conference and exhibition venue market and brings a fresh, dynamic approach to food and drink experiences at the unique location.
CH&CO is responsible for the entire food and drink offer across the diverse site, including: event hospitality for conferences through to galas and parties; four grab-and-go style retail outlets across the exhibition halls; four bars (three in The Royal Hall and one in the auditorium); and a fleet of interlocking and interchangeable mobile units to extend the overall scalability of the operation and provide additional food and drink support when needed.
CH&CO stood out in the competitive tender process for its forward-thinking approach that redefines catering and hospitality at Harrogate Convention Centre and pushes boundaries to help shape its future. The new proposition is more innovative and flexible for the centre’s clients, creates a more effective and efficient use of all the spaces, recognises the unique heritage of the site and its role in the community, and supports local suppliers.
Tailored and thoughtfully-developed food and drink experiences will adapt to the multi-purpose use of the site, with menus and service style changing with every event to reflect visitor demographic, event style and programme. This approach ensures the convention centre’s clients benefit from a bespoke catering solution that meets their requirements and enhances the visitor experience. All food will be freshly prepared from scratch on site, using quality, seasonal ingredients that champion local suppliers.
Recognising the high visitor numbers, an investment has also been made in redesigning the food and drink spaces to maximise customer flow, reduce queue times and increase sales.
The partnership will see the launch of the new brand Matcham’s, which is unique to Harrogate Convention Centre’s cafés and bars and celebrates the site’s history.
For the first time, Harrogate Convention Centre plans to extend its food and drink offer to Harrogate’s residents and visitors. The café in the King’s Suite will be redesigned to feature an efficient internal- and external-facing counter that will serve quality Barista coffee, hot and cold drinks and a variety of fresh food and snack items to visitors within the centre and the public in a street-facing café.
Harrogate Convention Centre director, Simon Kent (pictured centre) said, “The team at CH&CO has impressed us with its commitment to Harrogate and to developing our business alongside their own.
“They have taken up the running of the full catering offer at the Convention Centre. It’s a major undertaking which encompasses everything from awards dinners and banquets to providing tea and coffee during breaks in events.
“CH&CO has a diverse portfolio and we are their biggest site in the convention and exhibition venue market. They have a hugely talented team and the company’s ethos is recognising that each client, event and location has different needs. Their ability to tailor catering to very different occasions will be a real strength considering the diverse calendar events we hold here.”
Dean Lindsay, CH&CO's Managing Director for Midlands, North of England and Scotland, said, “We’re very excited to be working with the Harrogate Convention Centre. The new partnership strengthens our position in the conference and exhibition venue market, with the Harrogate Convention Centre becoming our flagship venue in this arena.
'The convention centre is a unique and inspiring site that combines modern, flexible event spaces with a wonderful history and it’s important that this is reflected in the catering and hospitality offer.
'The new direction that we’re taking celebrates the site’s heritage and the town of Harrogate, whilst offering innovative, tailored solutions that maximise efficiencies and sales opportunities. We’re also creating uplifting food and drink experiences for the centre’s clients and visitors and it’s great that this will also extend to Harrogate’s residents and visitors.
'We look forward to working with Harrogate Convention Centre and being part of its evolution. The vast support that we will bring from within the CH&CO business – from culinary, nutritional and customer service training expertise to marketing, procurement and IT support – will ensure the food and drink offer continues to innovate, excite and deliver.”
Pictured left to right are: Tom Lloyd, commercial operations manager, North, CH&CO; Dawn Milne, head of project management office, CH&CO; Simon Kent, director of Harrogate Convention Centre; Jim Wealands, group food development director, CH&CO; Claire Trott, commercial manager, Harrogate Convention Centre.