Sponsored by Bunzl Catering & Hospitality Division
Paul Bate triumphed in what all the judges agreed was a tough category to adjudicate, thanks to the high quality of the shortlisted entries. As Amadeus's general manager for the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), he has a large and demanding catering brief. The NEC hosts more than 500 events every year and welcomes 2.4 million visitors through its doors.
Bate must overcome these challenges, not just getting the catering offer right, but also dealing with spikes in attendance. The scale of the team he is managing is impressive, to say the least. He manages up to 300 people at any one time, depending on how many events are taking place across the 20 exhibition halls.
This includes recruitment and deployment staff, key account managers, live-event managers,the mobile catering team, the front-of-house team and 35 chefs.
Bate manages it all with aplomb. In 2016, he led the renovation of the fixed retail offer in halls 1, 3 and 4, replacing the out-of-date units with the Edge - one restaurant location with four styles of food, offering everything from homemade favourites to continental classics.
The same model will be rolled across all exhibition halls by 2020. Bate has even designed some of the mobile catering concession stands that are tailored to particular events and deployed in the event of spikes in attendance, such as Pure, serving healthy food, and the Made handcrafted café. As well as running the Starbucks franchise on site, Bate's team also manages the 'Served to you' on- stand hospitality service, offering daily hospitality, and on-stand drinks receptions and coffee machines, to entice visitors to the stands Following a rise in the number of on-stand drinks receptions, Amadeus has recently added a pop-up cocktail and mixology service as part of this package.
Thanks to such initiatives, Bate has helped to drive up EBITDA at the NEC by 29% compared with the previous financial year. He is, according to Amadeus, not afraid to take risks and shake up the catering offer to make Amadeus stand out as a challenger brand. Quick to recognise and nurture talent in his seven years since joining the NEC as general manager, Bate can count on a passionate and talented core team, including Neil Ashton (executive chef), Stuart Mitchell (catering operations manager, retail) and John Dukes (senior catering operations manager). He also ensures that ambitious staff members take part in Amadeus's masterclass series, designed to enhance the skills of its workforce through six key modules.
All of this left the judges in no doubt as to who their winner was, as they praised Bate's commitment to innovation and his level of achievement in an environment that they all conceded could be extremely challenging.
What the judges said
"Some fantastic innovation in a truly challenging venue. A worth winner in a strong field."
Beverley Baker, Commercial Services
"A strong entry with genuine innovation in a challenging environment. Strong leadership skills and visionary ideas. An inspirational manager."
Stephanie Hamilton, ISS Facility Services UK
"Paul Bate is everything you want in a general manager and to still be so innovative and delivering such growth in EBITDA on is no mean feat. Paul is a truly phenomenal manager."
Emma Williams, Green & Fortune
Paul Bate Amadeus
Yvette Chatwin Searcys
Daniel Clark Delaware North
Sam Roth BaxterStorey
2016 Murray Soper Bartlett Mitchell
2015 Emma Williams Green & Fortune
2014 Jamie Stevenson BaxterStorey
2013 Renier Oberholzer Harbour & Jones