Lindley Heritage is to take over the catering at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire from in-house operators today, after signing a five-and-a-half year contract worth an estimated £11m in turnover.
The East Midland Zoological Society, which operates the zoo as the World Primate Centre, has brought Lindley Heritage on board to develop its catering services for the 500,000 members of the public who visit the venue annually and build its conference and events business to establish a viable revenue stream for the 90-acre site.
Lindley Heritage - created by The Lindley Group in 2011 to offer a bespoke catering service for museums, historic houses and visitor attractions - is taking over the catering operation on the day the zoo begins a year of 50th anniversary celebrations. Immediate plans include introducing new menus and style of service at each of the cafés and restaurants located around the zoo, and creating a new barbecue and outdoor seating area.
In the autumn, the caterer will commence a major refurbishment programme including the relaunch of the Himalaya Restaurant overlooking the snow leopard enclosure - the main catering outlet which is also available for private hire for up to 500 guests, and developing a new concept featuring gourmet fish and chips for the Gorilla Outpost.
Mary-Lorraine Hughes, acting chief executive at Twycross Zoo, said that the venue had decided to appoint Lindley Heritage for "inspiration and expertise" in developing its catering offering.
"Lindley Heritage could clearly see the long-term commercial potential for us to develop our offering and really opened our eyes to the opportunities we have here. They outlined a number of initiatives and plans for enhancing our catering services, and proposed an investment plan for the infrastructure of the catering facilities.
"Twycross Zoo is guaranteed a return from catering and events plus a share of the profits, whilst we also benefit from their extensive experience and expertise in a partnership arrangement that we are happy to commit to for the next five and a half years."
Jonathan Davies, sales and marketing Director of The Lindley Group, which also provides ad hoc consultancy services at Chester Zoo, said there is plenty of scope for development of the venue due to its extensive and flexible conference and banqueting facilities, as well as a central geographic location and good transport links.
Twycross Zoo is renowned for looking after a number of endangered species, including bonobos, orang utans and gorillas, as well as housing aound 1,000 species of animal and every species of the great ape.
Lindley Heritage also manages catering contracts at The Hepworth Wakefield, the Theatre Royal Bath and Malvern Theatres. The Lindley Group, was acquired in the spring by US-based global hospitality provider, Centerplate.
Mary-Lorraine Hughes is pictured with Adam Elliott, president of The Lindley Group and executive vice president, Centerplate.