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On 19 August, in a statement to announce its merger with CH&Co, Gather & Gather managing director Allister Richards said: "Our growth has been fuelled by our determination to do things in our own way, and to serve our customers in a style that better reflects modern tastes and expectations."
Just 25 days earlier, when the Foodservice Cateys judges crowned Gather & Gather their 2019 Business & Industry Caterer of the Year, they couldn't have put it any better themselves.
For the caterer, formed from the catering arm of Mitie in 2013 and with 2,500 employees across 330 sites, it has been a truly fantastic year. The past 12 months saw Gather & Gather grow turnover by £27m through mobilising 12 new contracts, increasing like-for-like sales by 4% and cash and hospitality sales by 6% across key contacts. Gross profit increased by 0.5%, helped by a 1% labour saving.
One of the driving forces behind these fantastic numbers was the Gathered Table initiative. Gathered Table brings together industry figures, including chefs José Pizarro, Ollie Dabbous and Neil Rankin, restaurateur Nisha Katona and healthy eating champion Dr Rupy Aujla to predict trends, reimagine workplace dining and help create more productive teams.
A key benefit is the impact on team morale, with some of the caterer's employees calling the sessions with the star chefs an industry highlight.
And it's clearly had a huge impact on the company's financial success, with an upsurge in the number of bids and new contract wins since the Gathered Table event in September, plus a 4% sales mix and 65% gross profit from Gathered Table dishes sold across sites.
The CAKE programme (customer focus, authenticity, knowledge and empowerment) of bite-sized training sessions, covering everything from assertiveness to handling conflict, is designed to help staff become more comfortable and drive revenue through delivering great customer experiences. The initiative has contributed to Gather & Gather's current attrition rate of 22% and saw it promote 20 members of staff internally in the past 12 months.
The company's coffee offer has benefited from sourcing the Camino single-origin espresso blend from smallholder farmers in Peru, with the beans being roasted in London by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. By offering a specialist coffee from a sustainable supply chain at a competitive price, Gather & Gather increased its gross profit by 1.5%.
It's this combined dedication to its people, product and business development that wowed our judges and makes Gather & Gather the 2019 Business and Industry Caterer of the Year.
What the judges said
"A really strong submission with compelling supporting evidence of a superb year."
Greg Mace, managing director, Rapport
"Gather & Gather showed superb growth in the past 12 months coupled with its inspiring Gathered Table initiative. A company that continues to develop and innovate."
John Nugent, managing director, Green & Fortune
"Its dedication to the people and the product is very visible and Gathered Table is a great representation of the heartbeat of the business."
Alan Beddie, managing director, Wilson Vale
Gather & Gather
The Genuine Dining Co
2017 The Genuine Dining Co
2015 Charlton House
2014 Restaurant Associates
2013 Lexington Catering
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