Foodservice and facilities management (FM) firm Servest has picked up a nationwide catering and FM contract with the BBC worth up to £47.5m.
The three-year deal, with an option for a two-year extension, is expected to start next month. Servest will take over from incumbent operators Aramark and BaxterStorey, which previously managed the catering between them.
The new contract has an annual value of around £9.5m according to the original tender documents published last May, though industry insiders have speculated that it could be worth as much as £12m a year.
The tender had been divided into eight separate lots, which the BBC described as "an exciting opportunity for local, regional and UK-wide businesses", but according to Chris Stern of Stern Consultancy, the appointment of a single firm is not a surprise.
He said: "In the current climate a lot of clients are doing it, one of the highest profile ones being the Barclays contract won by ISS in 2012, which has gone very well from a catering perspective, as I understand it. That sets a bit of a precedent and people will look at that.
"The BBC will be very driven by the financial deal, because it has to be, but it does worry me when catering is driven by that."
Stern also warned that the contract would not be without its challenges for Servest, a facilities management-focused firm that expanded its foodservice offer last year with the acquisition of 7 Day Catering. At the time, Servest said it expected the combined business to generate annual sales of around £200m.
"The BBC has always been challenging. It has a lot of services and as a public body, it doesn't have a very big budget, which I suspect is driving a lot of this," he explained. "If you look at the current catering estate of Seven Day, which is actually a decent-size, they don't have a massive pedigree in white collar and particularly in media, and media is unique.
"But the BBC, one would assume, has done its homework."
Servest will deliver catering to around 14,000 BBC employees at 18 locations, with services expected to include 24-hour staff restaurants, as well as meeting and events hospitality.
The lucrative win comes hot on the heels of a string of new business deals announced since the start of the year, including Southern Water 's second HQ at Falmer near Brighton; construction company Travis Perkins's distribution centre in Northampton; Roberts Bakery in Cheshire; and the Oldham site for cavity pump manufacturers NOV Mono.
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