Sponsored by Britvic
When Jockey Club Catering (JCC) formed, it was with a vision to deliver outstanding service and catering across the board, "ensuring legendary experiences that are a cut above".
It's a bold ambition, but the financial figures reported by this partnership between Jockey Club Racecourses and Compass Group suggest JCC is delivering on that promise. Annual turnover was £34m when the business launched in 2009 and last year it neared £50m, marking an increase approaching 50%.
Each year it operates across 15 racecourses, over 333 race days, and serves 1.92m racegoers as well as 128,000 non-race day guests. Race days account for the bulk of revenue generated, but the 15% remainder that comes from exhibitions, conferences, weddings and Christmas parties is not to be sniffed at.
Investment in the business has been significant, with millions being spent on improving facilities and on the new Princess Royal Stand at Cheltenham racecourse.
JCC continually seeks to improve its guest offers and in 2016 alone it launched more than 30 new concepts, including the Hyperion, a mobile, scalable pop-up aimed at 25- to 50-year-olds that incorporates live entertainment from DJs, mixologists creating bespoke cocktails and the Great British Picnic, where guests enjoy a picnic on the racecourse lawns.
A five-course Moët & Chandon Dining experience was launched at the Newmarket Festival in July, where 270 covers were made available over three days. Ladies Day sold out within two days of release.
And for those who prefer Italian bubbly, JCC introduced Purely Prosecco retail kiosks, which has already helped its Prosecco sales increase by 20% year-on-year. Put simply, the business sold 12,000 bottles of Prosecco in 2016 and it has sold 15,000 bottles in the first six months of 2017 alone.
The caterer has used technology to enhance the guest experience too, with the roll-out of a new ‘click & collect' mobile app. Developed by Preoday, the app enables customers to preorder food and drink to be collected from apponly stations. First-time users are enticed with a 10% discount, while returning customers are rewarded with cash in their app wallet.
Guest feedback is important to JCC, which uses mystery diners and customer surveys to track opinions. Survey responses have grown from 16,000 in 2014 to 32,000 in 2016, when the average mystery diner score was 85.78%.
Feedback to date in 2017 has been remarkably positive too, with 92% of guests rating their catering as good or excellent.
Of course, well-trained staff are vital and JCC works hard to get it right. More than 3,500 people were recruited in 2016 for the company's festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom Downs and between them they received more than 26,000 hours of training.
The last word falls to Jockey Club Racecourses chief executive Paul Fisher, who said: "Operating to strict timelines within temporary structures, JCC never fails to showcase its dedication, professionalism and innovation, which always amazes me and our guests."
What the judges said
"JCC has had outstanding growth. Its great new ideas, such at the click & collect app and the mystery diner reviews, speak volumes."
Bill Toner, CH&Co Group
"This entry made me believe anything is possible. This business has some terrific ideas and is aggressively promoting its services."
Matthew Thomas, Searcys
Jockey Club Catering
Levy Restaurants UK
2015 Levy Restaurants UK
2013 Green & Fortune