All change on the terraces

23 July 2012
All change on the terraces

When football fans swap pies for lattes, you know that Britain's eating-out revolution is all encompassing, says Zolfo Cooper partner Graeme Smith

As footballing thoughts return to the domestic game, the most pressing matter for followers of Tottenham Hotspur is whether the club can retain its best players after being so cruelly deprived of a Champions League spot.

But while fans contemplate losing not just their manager but also some top players, they can console themselves with other recent arrivals at White Hart Lane.

The club has redeveloped its catering with Lindley Group, the venue specialist. The existing East Stand offer has made way for a Starbucks and a clutch of other eating-out brands developed by Lindley - including Frank's Original New York Streetdogs and the Pie Factory.

The arrival of branded concepts at Spurs comes after Starbucks made its debut in 2007 at another UK football ground: Derby County's Pride Park - the first football stadium in Europe with a Starbucks. When football fans have an equal interest in lattes and flat whites as the sacred Saturday afternoon Bovril (and pie) - you know that Britain's eating-out revolution is all-encompassing.

The development at Spurs speaks of a growing trend in the market segment once known by the catch-all term "cost-sector catering". Inevitably the desire for top-quality, eating-out propositions in offices, public sector buildings and football grounds is having a significant impact on operators in those parts of the market.

High-quality specialists, such as Searcy's and Rhubarb, have emerged and changed expectations, while other companies have bought additional quality - and brands - through acquisition. Examples include Baxter Storey and Benugo, and most recently, CH & Co's partial purchase of Apostrophe.

The latter case points to why we believe more collaborations will occur between catering specialists and high street brands. It gives CH&Co real branded firepower when pitching for new opportunities while delivering a raft of potential new sites to Apostrophe.

This change in expectations of customers means that cost-sector catering operators that relied on distribution channels and cost efficiencies need to adapt - and fast.

Consumers everywhere want their high-street quality product regardless of the environment. An absolute focus on cost must give way to food retailing skills and delivery on the plate.

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