Compass Group is to amalgamate all its UK fine-dining operations under the Restaurant Associates (RA) banner, Caterer has learnt.
The decision by RA managing director Jason Leek, who was appointed to shake-up fine dining at Compass last autumn, will see the phasing out of the Baxter & Platts and Everson Hewett brands.
In their place will be four operating divisions: RA Dining will handle employee feeding and public restaurant catering RA Hospitality will look after executive dining (and will include Roux Dining) RA Business Services will handle "soft services" such as reception and help-desk functions and RA Hotels will continue to look for opportunities such as the recent tie-up with Gary Rhodes for Rhodes W1 at the Cumberland hotel in London.
Leek is particularly keen to grow RA's share of the business management market and hotel food & beverage (F&B), which, he says, affords the greatest growth opportunity and complements the business as a whole.
"I think there's huge potential because only a small percentage of the luxury market has chosen to outsource their food and beverage operations so far, but there's an increasing appetite to do so and to concentrate on filling rooms instead," he told Caterer. "I also believe the commercial nature of hotel food and beverage, and the need to get bums on seats, require skills that will benefit our business and industry interests."
RA has got its hotel F&B aspirations off to a strong start by landing the deal to develop the food offer, including a brasserie and room service, at the £180m, 600-bedroom Sofitel hotel at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, which is owned by Arora International and opens in April 2008.
The refocused RA, part of a wider shake-up of brands at Compass led by UK chief executive Ian El-Mokadem, will have about 130 contracts and 4,000 employees.
By Chris Druce