Contract caterers are losing out because they are failing to adopt high-street retail models, according to a speaker at the European Catering Association conference in London last Friday.
Food service consultant Jonathan Doughty said that year-on-year sales at the British Library caf in London, run by Compass Group division Leith's, had gone up 46% as a result of some retail tweaking, while uptake at a central London consultancy site run by BaxterStorey had increased from 42% to 68%.
Measures include rewarding loyalty, increased customer feedback and more responsive product ranges.
"You either get it or you don't," said Doughty. "Cutting costs is not the only way to make money; you have to manage up sales too. The language of retail remains alien to some caterers."