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Elior UK company profile 1991-2004

View Elior company profile 2010-2015 here
View Elior company profile 2005-2009 here




ELIOR ARTICLES ON THE CATERER


Who’s who in contract catering (2004)
Route to the top – Caroline Black (Azure Support Services) 
My route to management in contract catering – Jana Zschieschang, Avenance UK 
My route to the top – Tim West, Avenance UK 
Art Food (Digby Trout at the National Gallery) 
Amanda Afiya spends a day with Rob Kirby, executive chef at Avenance 
Marc’s gospel (Catering & Allied) 
As they like it (Eliance UK at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
Taste of Liberty (Digby Trout Restaurants) 
Church service (Digby Trout at Southwark Cathedral)
Call to Armouries (Digby Trout at the Tower of London)  |
House mates (Eliance at Hertford House, London
Green pioneers (Nelson Hind at Wessex Water Services)  
Courting success (Catering & Allied at Deutsche Bank) 
Monumental menus (Eliance at the Eiffel Tower)  
Growing small (Catering & Allied)  
Tim West – Food Service Caterer of the Year 1998
Food for thought (Catering & Allied at Fidelity Investments)  



TIMELINE


2000-2004



  • December 2004 Azure starts a five-year, £1.9m-turnover contract to operate the café, brasserie, interval bars and corporate hospitality at the Sage music and arts centre in St Mary’s Square, Gateshead, although the deal moves on to Digby Trout.
  • December 2004 Elior reports a 21.7% rise in pre-tax profits to at €117.7m for the year for the year to 30 September, whle sales grew by 5% to €2.5b. Healthcare and education drove the 3.2% growth in contract catering sales to €1.6b; concessions catering grew by 6.7% to €887m, although earmings fell slightly to €74.4m. New catering contracts added about €185m in annual turnover. 
  • November 2004 Elior UK acquires a 51% stake in Glasgow-based Azure Support Services, a £15.2m turnover sports and leisure caterer whose clients include the Royal Yacht Britannia and Rangers, Nottingham Forest and Stoke football clubs. Azure was founded in 2000 by Sodexho Kelvin employees Caroline Black and Lawrence Morrison, with Rangers chairman David Murray holding a minority stake through Charlotte Ventures. In March 2001, Azure became Scotland’s largest events catering business when it merged with Edinburgh-based Le Bistro (a £7m, 120-employee company founded 14 years before by Liz McAreavey) to aid its expansion into England and the corporate sector – a drive bolstered by the opening of a Manchester office in October 2003.
  • September 2004 Digby Trout opens the new 300-seat National Gallery Café in London’s Trafalgar Square.
  • August 2004 Digby Trout Restaurants wins four five-year contracts worth a combined £5m a year with Historic Royal Palaces. It adds Hampton Court Palace to its re-awarded deals with the Tower of London, Kensington Palace (which it has held for 11 years), the Tower of London (since December 2000) and the Wharf at the Tower (since December 2002).
  • August 2004 Avenance wins a one-year rolling contract at boarding school Malvern College in Worcestershire with annual turnover of £1.4m.
  • August 2004 Groupe Elior reports a 4.6% growth in sales over the first nine months to €1.9b. Contract catering and concessions grew by 3.1% and 7.5% respectively. New UK wins include a six-year, £9.95m deal at Edinburgh Castle and a nine-year deal worth £44.5m to manage 16 House of Fraser department store restaurants in London and Scotland.
  • August 2004 Avenance loses its contract at Foxwood School in Nottingham to Wilson Vale.
  • July 2004 Mike Audis takes over as chief executive from Tim West, who becomes chairman. West, formerly managing director at High Table, was chief executive for four years and has been with the group for 16 years.
  • June 2004 Avenance loses its half of the catering contract at Ford Motor Company (which it has held since 1999) to Compass Group, which becomes sole caterer for the firm.
  • June 2004 Tim West becomes the group’s first chairman in the UK.
  • June 2004 Groupe Elior co-founder Francis Markus steps down as co-chairman while Robert Zolade becomes sole managing partner following its merger with Bercy Management. Bercy, which was owned by Markus, held a 29.13% stake in Elior.
    June 2004 Groupe Elior reports a 21.4% rise in half-year pre-tax profits to €50.1m and a 3.8% increase in turnover to €1.27b. Sales grew by 2.9% in contract catering and by 7.8% in concession catering. It increases its stake in French hospital cleaning firm Hôpital Service to more than 97%; boosts its share in  Italian motorway services catering company MyChef (by 30% to 40%) and buys 10% of travel retail operator Dufry. Elior has started sellingl its Pomme de Pain and Serrac/Quick fast food activities in shopping centres and city centres.
  • May 2004 Elior launches an aggressive growth plan for its Italian subsidiary, Avenance Italie, which recently incorporated Italian subsidiary RistoChef,. It plans to expanding its operations in B&I, in schools, healthcare and motorway and airport concessions.
  • April 2004 Avenance becomes the first UK contract caterer to win organic status from the Soil Association. It plans to roll out the Avenance Organics brand from two pilot client sites in Harlow, Essex, and Beckton, East London.
  • March 2004 Groupe Elior plans to challenge Compass’s dominance in the European concession catering market by driving growth in airports, motorways, railway stations and museums in the UK and Italy. Eliance UK has three motorway sites, two airports (Aberdeen and Blackpool) and a Delifrance outlet at Leeds railway station while Digby Trout operates several museums and leisure sites. Other plans include growing use of central food production kitchens, reducing European supplier list and offering full facilities management in healthcare (but not B&I).
  • March 2004 Groupe Elior says it will not pitch for English state school meal deals until they are properly funded as it would mean serving unhealthy food. Elior is the second biggest school meals caterer in France, where state subsidies on meals are at least double those in the UK.
  • January 2004 Avenance continues its catering contract with reinsurance company Swiss Re after the move to its new London headquarters, 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin). Searcy’s is to run a new 80-seat restaurant at the top for tenants and their guests which opens in May.
  • January 2004 Groupe Elior denies rumours that it is to sell its UK arm to Aramark. Last year the UK arm of Elior turned over €300m (£208m), accounting for 13-14% of the group’s sales. Gilles Cojan, managing director of international strategy, sees enormous growth potential in healthcare, defence and education.
  • January 2004 Avenance secures three new contracts across London with a combined turnover of £500,000 – with fund management company Morley FM, publisher Reed Elsevier, and with oil and gas company Chevron Texaco (an extension).  
  • January 2004 Groupe Elior reports a 15% rise in pre-tax profit from €57.7m to €66.2m on sales up 4% to €2.42b for the year to 30 September 2003. New contracts added €165m to annual sales. Turnover grew by 2.3% in contract catering turnover and by 10% in concession catering sales, helped by new UK contracts at Edinburgh Castle and London’s Royal Festival Hall. The UK accounts for one-tenth of group business.
  • January 2004 Avenance Scotland has 28 contracts (two in education, the rest in B&I) with a total turnover of £5m. Key clients include Norwich Union and Burton Foods.
  • September 2003 Avenance wins two new contracts – at the InterContinental Hotels Group European Business Centre in Aylesbury and Coxhill Manor residential nursing home in Surrey.
  • September 2003 Digby Trout Restaurants wins a six-year, £1.7m-per-annum contract to cater at Edinburgh Castle. The deal covers Edinburgh Castle Café as well as event bookings for the Jacobite Room, Gatehouse Suite and Queen Anne Building.
  • September 2003 Avenance loses the contract at the Royal Society in Carlton Terrace, London, to Eaton Group which scoops a new three-year, £1m-per-annum deal.
  • August 2003 Wilson Vale wins two contracts from its former employer Avenance – the Scania Truck training centre in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and Lexmark International’s inkjet cartridge manufacturing plant in Fife. Avenance wins a one-year catering contract at Orley Farm School in Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex.
  • August 2003 Digby Trout opens the the refurbished, 120-seat riverfront brasserie at the historic Maltings centre in Ely, Cambridgeshire, where it also operates the function rooms in a contract worth £850,000 per annum.
  • July 2003 Business caterer Avenance expands its contract with law firm DLA, adding Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sheffield and Bradford to its existing site in Leeds.
  • July 2003 Digby Trout opens the Festival Square café-bar at London’s Royal Festival Hall, signaling the launch of the South Bank Centre’s £57m renovation of the celebrated concert hall. Seventeen of Digby Trout’s 27 venues are in London including Kensington Palace, the Science Museum and department store Liberty’s.
  • July 2003 Avenance wins a one-year rolling contract to feed 1,200 staff at biscuit manufacturer Burton’s Foods, adding Blackpool and Edinburgh to existing sites in South Wales and the Wirral.
  • June 2003 Groupe Elior (which operates in 12 countries) more than quadrupled its profits in the six months to 31 March. Net income rose to €9.5m, up from €2.2m; Ebitda increased by 13.6% to £90.9m and turnover by 4.3% to €1.23b.
  • April 2003 Avenance loses its contract at Lexmark International’s inkjet cartridge manufacturing plant in Fife to Staffordshire-based Wilson Vale, set up by two former Avenance directors in February 2001.
  • April 2003 Digby Trout wins the £1.5m-a-year contract to run the new 300-seat Gallery restaurant at London’s National Gallery, which opens next year to become one of the first gallery restaurants with street access. 
  • March 2003 T-Mobile terminates its catering contract with Avenance and makes Lexington its sole caterer under a new £4m-a-year, three-year contract covering its 6,000 employees across six UK sites. 
  • March 2003 Avenance loses its contract at the John Innes Research Centre in Norwich to BaxterSmith. Avenance UK now has 650 contracts, 6,500 employees and annual sales of £180m. While B&I comprises 90% of sales, Tim West is aiming for 40% of sales from healthcare, defence and education.
  • March 2003 Groupe Elior wins a ten-year contract worth more than €250m (£172m) to provide all catering at the Paris Expo exhibition centre in Porte de Versailles, Paris.
  • January 2003 Avenance loses its contract with Tarmac Group near Wolverhampton to Leicestershire-based Catering Partnership.
  • January 2003 Groupe Elior reports a 4.2% increase in turnover to €620m in the three months to 31 December 2002. Concessions catering grew 17% to €201.1m while contract catering sales fell by 1% €419m.
  • Autumn 2002 Avenance completes the acquisition of Digby Trout Restaurants
  • November 2002 Groupe Elior recorded a 12.7% increase in turnover in the 12 months to 30 September to €2.3b. Contract catering turnover increased by 9% to €1.6b while concessions grew by 21.1% to €759.2m.
  • August 2002 Eliance turned over more than €2b (£1.27b) in 2000-2001. In the UK, it employed 400 staff (including seasonals) across contracts including London’s Natural History Museum, and Wallace Collection restaurant; the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridge; and Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • July 2002 Eliance is named as a potential buyer of Compass’s Little Chef roadside and motorway restaurants but says it is more interested in contracts than property ownership. It runs concessions in three Extra motorway service areas in the UK. However, the paucity of sites prompts it to quit the sector within a couple of years.
  • July 2002 Groupe Elior increased sales by 15.9% to €1.175b in the half-year to 31 March.International Ebitda grew by 77% to €24.4m and sales by 49%.
  • June 2002 Avenance loses its contract at pharmaceutical research firm Covance in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to Bartlett Mitchell.
  • June 2002 Lexington Catering (a group set up by four Avenance senior managers in January) scoops its first contract, a £1.5m deal to feed 950 staff at T-Mobile’s new head office in Hatfield. As Avenance was the sole caterer at T-Mobile, the telecoms company sets up a review into its catering operation in December.
  • March 2002 Digby Trout Restaurants opens the new Arthurs restaurant as part of a £13m redevelopment of the Liberty store in London’s Regent Street. It runs the existying Art Bar Café, which have a combined annual turnover of £650,000 by December 2003. It plans to add a 100-120-seat fine dining restaurant within three years. Digby Trout also caters at the Heal’s store in Tottenham Court Road.
  • January 2002 Eliance and Digby Trout see museum food sales nearly double at their restaurants in London’s Natural History Museum and Science Museum after museums and galleries scrap their entry charges.
  • 2002 Groupe Elior now generates 40% of its revenues outside of France.
  • October 2001 Eliance scoops a five-year catering contract worth £1.6m in annual turnover for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s riverside theatre and Swan theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • June 2001 Lee Forbes, hospitality chef at reinsurance specialist Swiss Re in Moorgate, London wins the Avenance Star 2001 competition which was originally established as Star Culinaire in 1997 by High Table. The other finalists were Ben Lister and Jason Taws of Lloyd’s of London, Kevin Wicks of Ford, Trafford House, and Carl Williams of Baker & McKenzie.
  • April 2001 Groupe Elior forms two alliances in Spain that make it the country’s leading contract caterer. It takes a 41% stake in contract caterer Serunion and enters a joint venture with Areas, which has restaurants in motorway service stations, railway stations and shopping centres.
  • March 2001 Digby Trout opens the 70-seat self-serve Refectory restaurant at Southwark Cathedral under a five-year deal that is part of the cathedral’s £10m development.
  • March 2001 Dan Wright quits as managing director of Eliance UK to join Aramark.
  • January 2001 Groupe Elior boosted sales by 20% nearly €1.82b in the year to 30 September 2000, while net profit rose by 15.9% to €14.3m. International sales rose from 15.5% to 26.8% of turnover following the acquisition of Ristochef in Italy, Osesa in Spain and Nelson Hind in the UK. Elior UK turned over £132m, and expects to make about £180m this year.
  • January 2001 The historic Armouries Building at the Tower of London opens its first restaurant in its 900-year history following a £6m refurbishment project. It is managed under a five-year contract by Digby Trout Restaurants. 
  • 2001 Elior expands into new markets, including Portugal and Morocco. In France, it buys a 38% share share in Services & Santé, and a 34% share in Les Repas Parisiens. It completes a new public offering, selling an additional 19% of its stock so 57% is now listed on the market.
  • December 2000 Eliance UK (which has a £10m turnover) opens its first motorway service site concessions for Swayfield, an Extra site on the A14 at Cambridge. It is followed by sites on the A1 (M) at Peterborough (in January 2001) and Baldock, Hertfordshire (February 2001). Swayfield is investing £60m in 17 Extra MSAs
  • November 2000 Tim Fisher, chef at City of London law firm Linklaters, wins the Avenance Chefs Grand Prix 2000 (launched in 1996 by High Table) staged at
    Avenance’s Arthur Andersen site. Danielle Barnett from HSBC, London, was best newcomer.
  • October 2000 Eliance, Elior’s commercial catering arm, wins a £4m contract at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire – its third concession in a museum. 
  • October 2000 Elior UK creates a joint venture with newsagent and distributor Hachette to run convenience stores at Connex railway stations – just as Connex loses its south central franchise, halving its stations to 200 across the south east. The group will open is first motorway service outlet next month; in France, Elior is one of the biggest railway caterers.
  • October 2000 Groupe Elior wins a 10-year deal worth more than €15m a year to cater at the IFEMA exhibition centre in Madrid, Spain, across 30 restaurants and bars in eight pavilions.
  • June 2000 Chris Hind, who co-founded Nelson Hind in 1989 with Andrew Nelson, wins the Food Service Caterer of the Year award in the annual Cateys. The company has grown by up to 70% per annum in the past few years, with 1998 pre-tax profits up 58% to £1.2m. Its 220 contracts included clients ranging from a Derbyshire quarry to Charterhouse public school and Rolls-Royce’s London head office. Hind encouraged chefs to set their own menus, do their own purchasing and run their units as small businesses in their own right. 
  • June 2000 Sales at Elior grew by 21.2% to €895.2m during the six months to 31 March. Profit before taxes and exceptional items rose by 11.8% to €32.1m.
  • June 2000 Elior buys contract caterer Nelson Hind for about £30m, making it the UK’s third largest contract caterer. Founders Andrew Nelson and Chris Hind are to stay on for at least three years. Nelson Hind brings Elior a £40m-plus turnover, a foothold in Scotland (with 25 contracts) and a stronger presence in the private schools sector. The enlarged group has a £160m turnover and more than 600 clients and 6,000 employees across Nelson Hind, High Table, Catering & Allied and Avenance (formerly Brian Smith Catering and High Table’s north and west divisions).
  • May 2000 Elior UK has a £125m turnover and 4,000 employees across 400 sites.
  • April 2000 High Table, Catering & Allied and Brian Smith are pooled under the Avenance brand (Elior’s staff restaurant division) under managing director Tim West.
  • March 2000 Groupe Elior floats on the Euronext Paris stock exchange with an offer of 36% of its capital, amounting to between €319m and €367m (£198.5m and £228.2m). The group is keen to break into the US market.
  • February 2000 Groupe Elior reports net profits of €36m and turnover of €1.5b for the year 30 September 1999. The year before, profits stood at €19m and turnover €1.39b. Clients range from hospitals and schools to offices, museums, shops and airports. The group also holds contracts at 7,458 restaurants, including the seven restaurants at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower’s Jules.
  • February 2000 The UK’s largest independent contract caterer, Nelson Hind, denies rumours it has been sold to Elior for £20m. Nelson Hind, now in its 10th year, is enjoying record growth with £43.5m turnover.
  • 2000 Eliance opens Café Bagatelle at the Wallace Collection at Hertford House in London – the museum’s first fine-dining restaurant. Chef-restaurateur Stephen Bull provideds creative direction.
  • 2000 Groupe Elior acquires a minority stake in Ristochef of Italy, which increases to 50% in 2001.  


The 1990s



  • December 1999 The Tower of London is spending £5m on converting its armouries building into a restaurant, banqueting hall and conference room that will be run by Digby Trout Restaurants when they open in October 2000.
  • November 1999 High Table wins the £5m-turnover catering contract for London insurance market Lloyd’s, which has two sites in London and one in Chatham, Kent.
    Elior UK now generates a £120m-a-year turnover from High Table, Brian Smith and Catering & Allied. 
  • September 1999 Catering & Allied has become one of the main players in the blue chip catering market for the City of London. It has about 100 contracts and 1,000 people in the City of London’s blue chip catering market where clients include Deutsche Bank.
  • July 1999 Swayfields approaches Eliance UK to operate concessions in a planned chain of 17 motorway service sites under the Extra name. Elior has more than 60 MSAs in France. 
  • July 1999 Building work starts on a restaurant and banqueting hall at the Tower of London which will be operated by Digby Trout when they open October next year.
  • May 1999 Elior becomes the UK’s fifth-largest contract caterer after it confirms rumours that it has bought £43m-turnover Catering & Allied by increasing its stake in joint holding company Eurocater to 80%. Eurocater takes over Catering & Allied’s UK and Netherlands business plus Elior’s Dutch holdings. High Table managing director Tim West becomes chief executive of Elior UK, which now comprises three brands – High Table, Caterer & Allied and Brian Smith – which turned over £102m in 1998.  Former Hallmark managing director John Symonds resigns.
  • April 1999 Elior buys Leicester-based caterer Brian Smith, in a move that doubles its UK presence and gives it a 50% share in the high-end executive catering market. Brian Smith turned over £25m in 1998 while High Table generated more than £48m. They have almost 300 contracts between them, including Brian Smith’s contract with the Court Service.  
  • 1999 Key buys by Groupe Elior overseas and at home include contract caterer Osesa (Spain), 51% of airport catering concessions group Aerocomidas (Mexico) and, in France, autoroute concessions group SRPMC, hospitals and healthcare specialist GHS Exploitation, and restaurant concession operator Société Hôtelière de l’Aéroport International de Brest.
  • September 1998 Catering & Allied opens a £3.5m staff restaurant and catering services at Deutsche Bank, a contract the company has held since 1985.
  • August 1998 Dan Wright, director of international brand development at Compass, is appointed managing director at Catering & Allied, 12 months after his predecessor John Houston departed.
  • July 1998 Tim West is voted the Catey Food Service Caterer of the Year for his ten-year career at High Table, where he has increased turnover from £14m to almost £50m to make High Table the UK’s sixth largest contract caterer with 140 contracts and almost 1,500 staff. He expanded the group outside its City of London home, masterminded the acquisition of Drummond Thompson and Hallmark, and developed the TJ’s branded sandwich and deli concept that contributes £7m to group turnover.
  • 1998 Bercy Management restructures ahead of a public offering, changing the company name to Elior and regrouping its activities under the Avenance (contract catering) and Eliance (commercial and concessions catering) brands. Advent swaps its 49% stake in Eliance for a 25% stake in the unified Elior.
  • August 1997 John Houston, managing director of contractor Catering & Allied Services, leaves after 14 years.
  • February 1997 Digby Trout Restaurants is now running 10 contracts with an annual turnover of £7.5m, and its set to open two more. Clients include the British Museum, Science Museum, the Museum of Mankind, Kensington Palace and the Ashmolean Museum.
  • January 1997 High Table buys Hertfordshire-based Hallmark Executive Catering with a 52% stake that will rise to 100% over the next 18 months. Hallmark turns over £5m a year across about 20 contracts, mostly staff feeding and executive dining in the South-east of England. Its acquisition takes High Table to a £40m annual turnover across 130 contracts.  
  • January 1997 Compass Group buys an 11.17% stake in Compagnie Générale de Restauration (CGR) for £27.7m from Compagnie Générale des Eaux, which is offloading part of its 47% holding. The CGR management retains a majority shareholding and holds 77% of the voting rights.
  • 1997 Bercy Management upgrades its flagging Elitair commercial catering arm into France’s leading player by teaming up with capital investment firm Advent International to buy Holding de Restauration Concédée (HRC), one of France’s top commercial caterers. The partners merge HRC and Elitair under joint venture Eliance.  Bercy buys out Générale des Eaux and its manager shareholders to gain 100% control of Générale de Restauration.
  • December 1996 High Table forms joint venture Renard Resources with recruitment agency Hanover Fox International to source its temporary staff.
  • October 1996 High Table loses its contract at Ladbroke Racing’s Middlesex headquarters to Baxter & Platts.
  • May 1996 High Table wins two new contracts worth more than £400,000 in turnover at the Bank of Ireland’s London offices and at London auction house Christie’s.
  • May 1996 Générale de Restauration (which includes Elior) is now Europe’s third largest contract caterer after Sodexho and Compass. Catering & Allied, which ranks 19th in Europe, is the UK’s biggest player after Compass and Granada.
  • February 1996 Digby Trout Restaurants opens the Ashmolean Café in a seven-year deal with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Other clients include the British Museum, Science Museum, the Museum of Mankind and Kensington Palace.
  • January 1996 Générale de Restauration takes full control of Elior (Orly Restauration) to become France’s biggest catering group with more than 17,000 staff and 2,600 restaurants. Under the deal, Financiäre Générale de Restauration, which already owned 25% of Elior, buys out Banque Rivaud and Générale des Eaux, which each held 33.3%.
  • 1996 Bercy completes its acquisition of High Table and Drummond Thompson during the year.
  • December 1995 Catering and Allied’s company development chef John Harris beats 40 chefs (including Gordon Ramsay of Aubergine) for the cookery slot on Meridian TV’s The Afternoon Show.
  • November 1995 High Table scoops a staff feeding and vending contract at media organisation Reuters’ two City offices worth more than £400,000 in annual turnover.
  •  April 1995 Bercy takes a 25% stake in London-based Catering & Allied Services (via new joint holding company Eurocater) that will grow to a majority holding by 2000. C&A was founded in 1975 by former Sutcliffe employees Marc Verstringhe (a Catey Food Service winner in 1989), Jop Koops and Kit Cuthbert and is the UK’s third largest contract caterer after Compass and Granada, generating a £50m turnover in 1994. The groundbreaking company helped spearthead the move from canteens to staff restaurants and was among the first caterers to offer hotel services and to set up in Europe. It operates 215 contracts in and around London and in the Netherlands through sister company Holland Catering Specialisten. Its French partner turned over FFr1.5b (£190m) last year. C&A formed an alliance with SV Services in Switzerland (Quality Catering Partners) in 1993. 
  • 1995 Bercy Management buys French fast-food chain Pomme de Pain.
  • November 1994 High Table buys a 55% stake in Manchester-based Drummond Thompson that will rise to 100% in two years. Founded by David Thompson in 1986, the £2.6m-a-year turnover Drummond Thompson services 20 sites, including Lever Brothers, the British Council, Premier Brands and Whitbread’s Boddingtons Brewery. High Table, which turned over £23m-plus in the year to September, plans to retain the Drummond Thompson name.
  • October 1994 Future acquisition Catering & Allied renames its public concessions caterer De Blank Restaurants after the company’s managing director, Digby Trout, who bought an 80% stake in the business in 1993. De Blank Restaurants was founded in 1987 as a joint venture between Catering & Allied and Justin De Blank Foods, which sold its stake in 1991. The renamed Digby Trout Restaurants expects to double its turnover this year to £8.5m: clients include the English National Opera, Barbican Centre and Science Museum in London, plus Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery, the Grand Assembly Rooms in York and Waterford Wedgwood Visitors Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.
  • October 1994 High Table loses its contract at the London Stock Exchange to Charlton House Catering Services.
  • April 1994 High Table continues its expansion beyond London with the opening of a Bristol office.
  • February 1994 High Table tenders for four of the five Midland Bank regions as part of its strategy to expand out of London and focus on staff catering. It reports pre-tax profits of £621,000 on a turnover of £20m for the year to September 1993.
  • 1994 Bercy buys out Accor’s stake in Générale de Restauration, taking its holding to 85%. It launches airport catering subsidiary Elite Aeropuertos in Spain. 
  • 1993 Bercy snaps up French catering group Elitair and 25% of Orly Restauration (which gives it a foothold in airport concessions).
  • 1992 Bercy buys a minority stake in High Table, a London-based high-end executive dining and catering company with a £14m turnover that was founded by Christopher Ballenden. Its operations director Tim West becomes managing director.  High Table opens an office in Leeds to kickstart its expansion beyond the capital
  • 1991 Francis Markus and Robert Zolade create Bercy Management in France to buy a 35% stake and management control in Accor’s commercial catering arm, Générale de Restauration, along with 300 managers. Accor retains a 50% share and investor Générale des Eaux the remaining stake. Markus and Zolade both worked in the 1970s with France’s leading restaurant and commercial catering group, Jacques Borel International, which sold its hotel (Sofitel) and catering businesses during the 1980s to SIEH (which became Accor).

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