Innovate named top performing caterer in foodservice growth report

13/11/2017 - 07:00
Education catering specialist, Innovate, has been named the UK’s top catering firm in a recently published foodservice report.

The growth report from AlixPartners and EP placed the Surrey-based company first in a list of the nation’s top 20 catering operators in a sector which the reports' author says is "increasingly pushing food back to its forefront”.

Innovate toped the chart ahead of premium events operator, Rhubard, and CH&Co- which rose 16 places from last year.

The top five was finished by school and business caterer, Cucina, and the CH&Co-owned firm, Harbour & Jones.

The list took into account latest reported turnover and compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last three years.

Companies with a turnover of over £1 billion were excluded as were businesses whose primary focus is facilities, although their catering subsidiaries were included if individualy reported on. Traditional catering companies expanding into facilities management services were included.

Innovate, with a reported turnover of £17.7 million and CAGR of 125.8%, went straight to number one in the chart having not been listed last year.

The company, founded in 2007, focuses exclusively on the education sector with more than 100 schools and canteens served by the group.

The top 10 was rounded off by Dine Contract Catering, Accent Catering, Entier, Bartlett Mitchell and Olive Catering Services.

AlixPartners reports that 11 of the top 20 reported lower turnover growth compared with the prior year with average margin in the index falling from 8.2% to 6.9% versus 12 months ago.

“Looking back at the latest period of review, we can clearly see that the market has got tougher,” said Tom Cox, AlixPartners director.

“2017 is likely to prove more challenging still as operational headwinds that have not yet translated into statutory figures start to bite, driven by the national living wage, apprenticeship levy, and food price inflation squeezing cash flows following the UK’s Brexit decision, as well as the subsequent devaluation in sterling.

“Life has not got any easier, but it’s fair to say best-in-class operators should continue to thrive and could indeed even benefit from changes in the ways contracts are bid in the future.

“For several years, many large corporate customers focused on bundled facilities management offerings, but they’re now increasingly pushing food to the foremost part of disaggregated contract tenders.

“That could counteract wider cost pressures if the smaller independents are attracted back into bid processes for deals that had recently eluded them—leveraging a more focused, food-only offer.”

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