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Levy Restaurants announces £15m overhaul of ExCel food offer

27 February 2015 by
Levy Restaurants announces £15m overhaul of ExCel food offer

The new food-led signing supersedes all former agreements between the two companies. Plans are expected to be finalised in the next month or so, with restaurant and café renovation work expected to begin this summer. The full project is planned for completion by the end of 2016.

The new deal will completely redesign ExCel's current catering offer within the exhibition halls, the "boulevard" space, and also within the banqueting and conference business, and is expected to include a mixture of Compass-created brands and in-house operation, high-street names, and independent sites.

The groups also confirmed that they had been working with food and events consultancy the Russell Partnership to identify key food trends on which to focus, and stated that architects SHH had been tasked with redeveloping the space.

Proposed designs include plans for a multi-level restaurant, a bar with "outdoors" seating space, and a variety of vans and street-food style kiosks.

The plans are also expected to create visually-appealing designs that will put the halls' size and characteristics - such as the ten-metre high ceilings â€' to maximum use and effect. Other plans include a publically-viewable, fully-functional bakery (which will support the exiting pastry kitchen).

The new terms will also consider aspects such as queue management, sustainability, visitor seating, easy-to-understand labelling, communication and seamless technology on aspects such as marketing, on-site payment, and making it easier for visitors to know what is on offer before they arrive.

In addition, this will extend to specific food offers for each ExCel event, with teams looking to work with event organisers far in advance of shows, to allow them to offer tailored options specific to different audiences.

Plans will incorporate popular consumer food trends such as a move towards healthy options, on-the-go street-food style snacks, interesting breakfasts, high-quality dinner service, and enthusiasm for international flavours. The study also showed that consumers are drawn to new ideas and coffee shop culture, but can be turned off a brand by a long queue or bad front-of-house.

Consumers also want to personalise their experience, to find out more about the venue's food offer in advance (such as on a smartphone or computer), and also respond positively to menus perceived "Britishness", and "authenticity" - in terms of locally- or ethically-sourced produce.

David Pegler, chief executive of ExCel London, today said: "Our job is to enable great event outcomes, so that organisers get the best return they can. We're continually looking at how we can improve our service, and asking how food can impact it, and how we can make our proposition more compelling, so that people want to come to ExCel as a visitor and organiser."

James Mark, executive director of ExCel London, added that although food might be seen initially as a secondary reason for someone to go to an exhibition venue, it was an integral part of their visit once there. He said: "We truly believe that food is the enabler that allows customers to create great events. A great food offer boosts event attendance, increases dwell time [at the venue], improves chances for networking, and inspires visitors to return. We've got a great space, and a great opportunity to create this vision."

Levy Restaurants UK was bought by Compass Group UK for £141m in 2006, and has since reported strong sales growth and a client retention level of 99% for 2014. Recent contract wins have included a £23.8m signing with Olympia London and Earls Court, a £90m deal with the Pennethorne Café Bar in Somerset House, and a £300m contract with Twickenham stadium.

Levy Restaurants hails 2014 a record year amid strong sales >>

Levy Restaurants wins £90m Somerset House contract extension >>

Levy Restaurants scores new £300m contract at Twickenham >>

Compass buys Levy Restaurants >>

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