LUPC logo Suzanne

Thread appointed to London Universities Purchasing Consortium framework

Thread were delighted to be appointed to the LUPC framework for catering consultancy services in late 2017 following a multi-part process to source the best expertise and value.

The Purchasing Consortium’s aim is to secure best possible value for their Members in the procurement of goods and services, without causing harm to others. They work collaboratively with other higher education purchasing consortia in the UK to manage more than 100 EU-compliant framework agreements.

When food is fuel rather than fun...

Thinking about food as fuel

For many of us, good quality food and nutrition are such a part of life, we can almost take them for granted. We enjoy so much, and can be fussy about our options, we forget that food is at it’s most basic level fuel to support the mechanics of our bodies.
Since reading about the devastating food crisis in East Africa, and the millions of families facing starvation due to the droughts we felt the need to contribute in some way. Thread have started regularly supporting Oxfam’s appeal to help provide life-saving support in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia with our charity donations in 2017.
This action got us to thinking about the people living below the poverty line in the UK (it’s 1 in 5 people now) and in particular to those in in our local area. After some research, we found that Stratford-upon-Avon foodbank is focussed upon helping local people in crisis. Their belief that “We don’t think anyone in our community should have to face going hungry” really resonates with the Thread team, so we support them with donations to help them provide nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people who’ve been referred to them as in crisis.
Sally Davis said “Thread Consultancy prides itself on creating storylines for others; connecting our beliefs with positive actions. We wanted to be involved with both of these charities to be able to share the benefits we see that food brings to us with others less fortunate than ourselves.”
Both Oxfam and the Foodbank rely heavily on the volunteers, time and donations and we’re proud to be doing our bit to support their movements and appeals.
If you’d like to know more, see:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/emergency-response/east-africa-food-crisis
https://stratforduponavon.foodbank.org.uk/

 

2016-17-clock

2016 – the year in review

Wow, what a year 2016 has been. Who would have predicted when we celebrated our 1st birthday in February that we’d end the year discussing negotiations for Brexit and Donald Trump’s impending Presidency? To say it’s been surprising is an understatement, but we’ve had plenty of more positive news within Thread!

In addition to being retained by all of 2015’s clients, we were commissioned in the Spring by two major new clients; one in the real estate sector and the other in Higher Education, both of whom have benefitted from unprecedented (by them) cost savings as a result of strategic reviews of their kitchen/front of house facilities and catering contract provision. We have managed one of the largest procurement projects in the Facilities Management sector, including a new contract for a utilities company worth £6 million per year for five years. We’ve also supported a client in the leisure sector tendering for an external contract for the very first time; guiding them through a major procurement process against global competition to reach the final stage of the process. This project delivered a strategic re-positioning and evolution of their brand and values as well as strategic planning and advice during each stage of their response.

We’ve had a new recruit join us – Jayne Gillitt – as our project coordinator, responsible for the coordination of all our KPI monitoring and collation and evaluation of in-house quality audits for one of our major clients.

On top of all that, we have managed to squeeze in 35 of our own quality audits across the country for a variety of clients and have delivered multiple training sessions for their teams as a result!

rnli-returns-to-dartmouth

Our love of water…

In addition to my personal love of food, some other things are close to my heart including sailing, the coast and Dartmouth in particular. I regularly make a donation to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) whose volunteer crews are always on call; putting their lives on hold to be ready to save lives at a moment’s notice. As I’m keen on boating, to support them to ensure they have the resources they need to do their work.

This year, donations are going toward funding a new Shannon class lifeboat. As part of the relief fleet, the new Shannon will stand in for other boats that need repairs or maintenance around our coasts, where 22 people are rescued every single day.

lifeboats

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Thread does Disney!

Last month we talked about Britain’s second city and its new food establishments, this month, one of our team went to Florida, sampling the delights of Disney. It’s an intoxicating experience on many levels – but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t pass some comment on the food, the style and the innovation; some of which could be translated into other environments.

“The first thing I couldn’t help but be impressed with was simply the range of food and beverage available.  Even at a quick, first glance there is just something for everyone; from fast food outlets to table service restaurants, fine dining menus to an unlimited array of snacks and drinks for food on the go. Providing this level of choice takes structure, robust procurement processes, and great customer service, and it’s evident that the organisation and processes implemented within each park are designed to ensure a smooth and efficient service at all times.

The majority of queues within the counter service restaurants are managed by people, politely moving guests into the shortest line and providing a friendly face and a “pause” you welcome rather than are frustrated by. The menus, although somewhat limited, are designed to be easy to read and order and the meal packages are clearly displayed making food selection speedy and easy. Given the volumes of customers going through each outlet, the payment process has been streamlined with guests being able to scan their Magic Bands (wristbands) which are linked to a prepaid dining package or the guests’ credit card.

In addition to efficient processes, product clarity and great customer service, Disney do theming very well as you might imagine! Creating the environment that takes your senses out of the ordinary or away from your expectations. When booked into the Italian Restaurant Mama Melrose, we were met by authentic music, menus and décor.  There are certainly no half measures, the staff (known as cast members) were in character, knowledgeable about the menus and the numerous Disney dining packages that guests had purchased.

All members of staff are referred to as cast members as Disney see them as an integral part of your experience and the “show” that is Disney.  The idea being that they are part of a team, no one job role is more important than another, and each has a part to play at each stage of the customer journey. In addition, we noticed that there are a refreshing number of older cast members throughout the parks.  The sprightly concierge who greeted us with a friendly good morning each day was well into his 80’s; his experience, style and nature in dealing with families was fantastic and personal.

Within such a large scale destination, the majority of fast food and counter service restaurants used disposable plates, bowls, cups and cutlery to provide options for customers to enjoy food inside or outside, and to reduce costs of washing up.  Recycling bins for cans and bottles were located around each park but all other rubbish was simply placed within one large rubbish bin.  When questioned about their recycling policy, the hotel advised that all rubbish is taken to a depot and sorted into the appropriate categories by the State of Florida.  This provides a quicker and easier option for guests but we wondered if such limited recycling sends the right message to us, and to our children in such a sustainability conscious world?

It’s common knowledge that Disney strive to give their guests the best possible experience but how do they react when things don’t go to plan?  On one occasion, we were left waiting one hour for our dinner in a table service restaurant which then made us late for the firework display. After voicing our frustrations, we were apologised to by three different members of staff numerous times and given a free fast pass voucher, which allowed us to bypass the queue at any attraction within the Magic Kingdom in an effort to give us at least some of our time back.

We had a magical holiday and despite it being a very costly adventure, the perceived value for money, and our overall experience was enhanced by the high level of service and enthusiasm that the Disney cast members seem to have in abundance.  A smile, a show and a sprinkling of fairy dust – a learning point for hospitality businesses everywhere!”

UK's second city

Second city suppers

While the team travel all over the country, Birmingham is the closest city to “home” for the majority of them and as such, the new restaurant, café and bar openings are always a hot topic in our office!

The last year has seen the openings of some great new eateries in England’s second city – not just those within the major developments of Grand Central (Leon, Pho, Square Pie and Tortilla among others) and Resorts World (High Line, Robata, Sports Bar, Sky Bar as well as mainstream brands Nando’s, TGI’s, GBK and Pizza Express) but also great independents all over the city.

From the messy and atmospheric Nosh & Quaff, tapping into 2015’s biggest food trend – the single dish (ish!) restaurant – to the popular with the work crowd Bodega, the Botanist, Cosy Club, Gas Street Social and Marmalade. They’re each using the city’s quietly grand architecture (the old Midland Bank and the REP Theatre among them) to be the perfect environment for their all day dining and drinking options.

Closer to our homes, we’ve seen the introduction of Meatcure, Coffee Architects, Bourbon Smokehouse and 33 The Scullery. Many of them have included “unlimited” options, incentives to dwell, and impressive kids menus; understanding the real shift we have seen in family and group dining in recent years and often outside “normal” meal times.

And it doesn’t stop there. 2016 has already seen the opening of Adam’s, Friska, Zizzi at Brindleyplace and we have Gaucho’s little brother – CAU, the Alchemist, Viva Brazil and Le Bistrot Pierre and a new Hotel du Vin yet to come. There really are too many hotspots, and too little time for us food lovers to get to them all!

The biggest changes we’re expecting to see come in the forms of the technology driven to service these restaurants; from Deliveroo to Quikr payment options, it’s likely to be the significant disruption in the catering sector in 2016. Plus, we’ve heard on the grapevine that Hawaiian food “poke” and Philippine cuisine will be hot this year, falafel will be appearing as vegetables in premium restaurants and menu kits from your favourite restaurants will be available for purchase. We can’t wait!

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We are one!

Yes that’s right – we are one today! We can hardly believe it’s been a year since Thread began building its own story, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

We have had a brilliant first year, since launching on the 2 February 2015 and would like to say thank you to those clients who have chosen to work with us already, our nine new clients, and a big welcome to those thinking about using us in the future.

We’re quick to build trust and new foundations within our client organisations, and are often treated as part of their team – which is a huge compliment to our people and theirs, and makes working together both enjoyable and productive.

On top of that, since launching a year ago, we’ve saved our three major clients alone a whopping £3.5m!

They’re pretty pleased with us as you might imagine, but we appreciate that it’s their understanding of the importance of continuous investment in catering quality audits, contract performance reviews, catering and soft service procurement and benchmarking, contract renegotiations and training that make our role in finding those efficiencies and improvements for their organisations possible.

In addition to this, we’ve undertaken three major strategic reviews and strategy development exercises with our clients, which will lead into more savings and performance improvement in 2016 and beyond. But we won’t jump the gun, we’ll let the storyline develop and tell you about those next year!

everyone loses a game

Everyone loses games. Few change them.

Believing that the football success philosophy of tackle, pass, score, repeat can be as applicable in dealing with challenges in the catering and soft services worlds, Thread Consultancy now sponsors local junior football team, Norton Lindsey FC.
Investing in the local community and giving back has always been close to MD, Sally Davis’ heart, but seeing her sons enjoying the sport more and more as they grow up, and noting the disciplines and characteristics required to be great sportspeople were similar to those we encourage so much in our work, she was very keen to be involved when the opportunity arose to bring energy and independence (and new shirts!) to the club.
While Norton Lindsey may be the team to beat at the moment, Sally firmly believes you should play like you’re the best, but train like you’re in second place – no bad strategy for pursuing dreams of any kind…
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Thread enjoys Regatta!

The port of Dartmouth welcomed thousands of visitors to the 171st Royal Regatta this summer. Thread team enjoyed a fun packed week experiencing the delights of numerous air shows, crabbing competitions, dinghy racing and rowing, with shopping and running events woven in between. Fabulous live music from the bandstand delighted spectators while they sampled a variety of street food. This soon became a piece of foodie research The Thread Team relished with enthusiasm!

The highlight of our experience was watching The Royal Navy display with The RNLI- Thread’s chosen charity. We continue to make donations throughout the year to support the vital part they play in saving lives. The RNLI have launched a new fund raising initiative in recognition of the many volunteers who risk their lives (and often their supper!) when they get called out to sea in an emergency. If you would like to support this worthy cause, please visit: rnli.org/howtosupportus/Pages/How-to-support-us.aspx and see how you can help.

 

 

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