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Benugo takes Science Museum deal worth £25m from Elior

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Benugo takes Science Museum deal worth £25m from Elior
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Café-to-deli operator Benugo has added the Science Museum, London, to its burgeoning portfolio of museum contracts in a deal worth £25m in sales.

The five-year contract was won from incumbent operator Elior’s Digby Trout business, and will see WSH-owned Benugo invest more than £1m in refurbishing the museum’s dining spaces.

The caterer will operate four outlets, including the Revolution Café, the Deep Blue restaurant, the Shake Bar serving fresh milkshakes, and a reworking of the basement café, as well as pop-up cafés.

The six-month refurb will include the addition of a mezzanine floor in the Revolution Café to increase capacity to 200 seats and a collaborative development with the Science Museum of the Deep Blue restaurant space.

The loss of the Science Museum business, which was described by one industry insider as a “flagship contract” for Elior, will be a significant blow to the French-owned caterer. It has lost three lucrative heritage contracts to Benugo since 2008, including London’s Natural History Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which were both inherited by Elior when it bought Digby Trout in 2002.

Chris Brown, managing director at consultancy Turpin Smale, cautioned caterers that they need to hold on to the ethos that made them successful in the first place in order to enjoy continued success in the cyclical concessions market. “Benugo has to insure that it retains the original vision and quality of its founders, so that it stays strong going forward.

“When caterers no longer have the founding father, it’s extremely difficult for organisations to keep that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the £10m a year Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) contract, currently operated by Elior, is out to tender and Benugo is among the fierce competition in the running for it.

Regional managing director Guy Kellner said: “We’re absolutely keen to get it. We feel we can provide answers for all of its questions.”

A spokesman for Elior confirmed the Science Museum contract loss but said that it had retained the National Museum of Science and Industry contract (NMSI) at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

“We have enjoyed a good working relationship with the museum in London over a number of years and we are currently finalising the smooth handover of this part of the contract,” he added.

Commenting on winning the Science Museum contract, Ben Warner, founder of Benugo, said: “We are really excited to be working closely with the team at the Science Museum to create a unique offering that will revolutionise the way visitors enjoy food and drink in one of London’s most iconic museums.”

John Barford, head of commercial development at the NMSI, said that the Science Museum is looking to “lead the way through its food offering as it does through its cultural content”.

Other big Benugo contract wins

 Venue Date won  Annual value  Length  Won from 
 Victoria & Albert Museum, London August 2004  £3m  12 years  Compass Group (Milburns) 
 Natural History Museum, London  September 2008  £4.5m  undisclosed  Elior (Digby Trout)
 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford  January 2009  £2m (estimated)  10 years  Elior (Digby Trout)
 Five Historic Scotland sites  April 2010  £5m  7 years  Elior (Digby Trout)
 National Museums Scotland  March 2011  £3m  7 years  

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