Café-to-restaurant operator Benugo has seen its venues business continue to blossom with the addition of a £40m deal at the British Museum.
It is the most visited museum in the UK – it has around six million visitors a year – and the second most popular in the world.
The prestigious five-year contract, scheduled to start in May, was particularly sought after, with CH&Co’s Ampersand and Creativevents also shortlisted.
Other operators among the 40 or so caterers that are believed to have shown an interest include Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts, Rhubarb and Prêt a Manger.
However, Benugo has demonstrated a meteoric rise in the museum sector with a number of lucrative contracts won in recent years, including the Science Museum in London (worth £25m), Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (£20m) and National Museums Scotland (£35m).
According to catering consultant Chris Stern of Stern Consultancy, it is one of a number of players that have grasped the market need for a commercially competitive approach to concessions.
“The sector has become far more transparent with the crossover from B&I. Clients now want and get open book, they share more openly in successes, yet are often well protected from failures,” he explained.
“Clients are also expecting more and are pushing their suppliers to be super-commercial, which they have to be anyway to succeed in a pretty sophisticated marketplace.
“I think clients are now forced to make every inch of space they occupy pay and there are caterers out there that are good at making it happen.”
The existing food service facilities at the British Museum will undergo a complete overhaul throughout the first year of the contract, with refurbishments expected to be carried out on a rolling basis. Benugo will undertake a complete renovation of the Great Court Cafés and Great Court Restaurant, which will become a casual dining destination. A number of new locations within the museum, including a deli lunch style café and espresso bar, are also being planned.
Steven Cova, director of hospitality at the British Museum, said the museum is keen to ensure it provides a wide-ranging food service offer to visitors at a high standard. “In Benugo we believe we have found a partner to provide this service, and can help us to upgrade our offer and grow our business,” he commented.
Ben Warner, Benugo’s founder, added: “The British Museum has an incredible history and heritage, and we are thrilled to be able to contribute to this through our food service, which will offer choice, value and excellence.”
The contract was won from incumbent operator Do & Co.
Benugo’s museum contract wins
- Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 12 years (duration), £3m (annual value)
- Natural History Museum, London, undisclosed duration, £4.5m
- Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 10 years, £2m (estimated)
- National Museums Scotland, 7 years, £3m
- Science Museum, London, 5 years, £5m
- British Museum, London, 5 years, £8m