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More Than Food

22 April 2009

The skills and experience that going into successful catering operations are now being extended to many more support services by Eurest Services. Jane Fenwick reports from two of its integrated services clients

New catering facilities at Shell Centre

AS EVERY WOMAN KNOWS, the way to a man’s heart is though his stomach. It seems that this approach is also increasingly finding favour in the world of integrated facilities services as catering specialists in particular build on good relationship created by feeding an organisation’s staff.

News that the National Grid has recently extended its catering contract with Eurest Services to a £63m integrated services deal makes this point. At National Grid, Eurest Services has retained its catering contract across 12 UK sites and won its support services business across a total of 579 sites. The contact comprises catering on 13 sites, security services on 38, cleaning on 151, portering on 18, reception services on 22, vending services on 293 and key holding services on 290.

This is the largest integrated FM services contract so far secured by Eurest Services formed last September by Compass Group to replace its ESS brand in the UK which formerly provided its integrated FM services offering. (The ESS brand will continue in its defence and offshore contracts.)

Eurest Services is part of the massive Compass Group that employs 66,000 in its foodservice and
support services operations in 64 countries and with annual revenues of around £11bn (in the year to 30 September 2008).

With such a strong focus on food throughout the Compass Group why not just stick to their knitting? According to Eurest Services MD, Graham Sims, clients have been asking them to provide more than just catering and after 18 months of research and analysis of feedback from them it was decided to make the change. "We have seen how in just a few months clients who went away because we would not offer support services, have come back now that we can.”

It is a trend across the business and industry sector where organisation in both the public and private sectors are seeking strategic partners to support their operations to provide productive and efficient working envrionments. As Sims explained, “Supplier rationalisation is a key driver for our clients as part of a focus on costs and guaranteed savings. Clients want a single point of contact for a multi service offering.”

Eurest Services approach is to provide bespoke FM solutions to its existing and new clients taking into account the client sites and business needs. It self-performs most of the services delivered including hard maintenance and engineering expertise.

As Sims explained, Eurest Services’ strategy is “built on its soft services offering. They have relationships with hard services contractors and its integrated FM contracts are self perfromed in both hard and soft services. Eurest Services will not seek M&E contracts per se.”

There has been heavy investment in recent years in the back office systems at Eurest Services to support this wider support services offering. The Compass service framework comprises OPS – Operational Services Procedures ( instructional matters delivered on broadband to operatives’ PCs); SMM - Service Management Model (used for tracking live SLA’s and billing clients for activities delivered); and a CAFM system based on Maximo (currently under test at the group HQ in Chertsey).

Sims noted that this IT investment has transformed the company operations enabling its new systems to link up and for clients will have their own portals.

Eurest Services has been working with Shell UK at its Shell Centre offices on London’s South Bank
since 2005, at Shell Mex house across the Thames, and supporting its operations in Aberdeen and offshore where its contract includes supplying chefs and catering services on oil rig accommodation platforms. It has recently extended this relationship with Shell into the Mediterranean region in Spain, Greece and Turkey, and into Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A £12m contract in London with Shell sees Eurest Services providing a comprehensive range of services to this complex and iconic building adjacent to the London Eye. The Shell Centre is Shell's global HQ for its Downstream Business and comprises a 30 storey tower and three nine storey wings that house up to 4,500 peopleworking in about 40 Shell operating companies. It also has five storeys underground which houses a car park and sports facilities including a full sized swimming pool.

Shell has occupied the building as since it original construction in the early 1960s and the Tower is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. For many of the building’s systems this is their first refurbishment. A maintenance team of 30 Eurest Services engineers looks after these building systems with the pride of someone polishing the brass on a vintage car.

They maintain the five boilers, six chillers, 12 escalators and the lifts. The building systems were 1960s state of the art, built to last with more than adequate design redundancy. For example, cool water for the air conditioning system comes from the Thames in an underground tunnel into a complex of filters and heat exchangers under the building.

Since 2007 it has taken on other support services (see table) in addition to catering. The refurbishment has been an opportunity for change within Shell, particularly standardisation of operational practices and equipment and Eurest Services plans the moves. The change in the restaurants and cafés and shops has been the most obvious break from the past for staff with the introduction of a choice of eating opportunities
in the basement and new second floor restaurants, and ‘grab and go booths around the buildings.

Food is also a key theme at another iconic multi service contract run by Eurest Services at Stormont, the home of the new Northern Ireland Assembly. Delivering services at any Parliamentary building is likely to be a high profile business, but with the recent tumultuous history of Northern Ireland, there are few contracts that require more sensitivity than this one.

In March 2007 Eurest won the catering contract in the Assembly Building and since November 2007 it has undertaken the cleaning contract. Built in 1931, Stormont has for much of its life been a negative symbol for parts of the Northern Ireland community. Now as the Northern Ireland Assembly it is the place here ‘peace’ has to work, as 106 Assembly members from all parts of the community meet, argue and govern for the
benefit of all.

Stormont is actively opening its doors to the people of Northern Ireland and about 70,000 people a year visit the Great Hall and Assembly Chamber, and an additional 100,000 official visitors enter the building ranging from Assembly members, ministers, press and civil servants to Diplomats, Royalty, Presidents and Prime
Ministers.

Colin Prentice, Eurest Services Support Services Manager, recognises the growing importance of Stormont to local people. “People come to Stormont with expectations and if our services are not up to it they will be disappointed. We often have short notice requirements and we have to respond to late ‘sittings’ and over running meetings which impact on catering in the Members facilities.”

The core Eurest team is 73 people including 22 cleaners, but this number is swelled by banqueting staff for special events. By taking on the cleaning function, Eurest Services also introduced multi skilling among catering, portering and housekeeping staff which has helped to provide a flexible, proactive and cost
effective service. Eurest Services also has separate support services contracts with 12 government buildings on the Stormont estate including Stormont Castle which the office for the First and Deputy First Ministers and their secretariats.

But, as Prentice explained, sometimes feelings can run high. Eurest Services staff have to be aware that ‘emblems’ are not allowed in Stormont, since national flags, certain flowers and even catering concepts can have a negative symbolism for either side of the religious and political divides.

The advent of peace in Northern Ireland has opened up more opportunities for outsourcing support services. With 110 contracts across the country including catering and the new Landsdowne Stadium for 21 years, Eurest Services is a market leader. As Maraget Campbell, Eurest Services Operational Performance Leader for Northern Ireland explained, “Outsourcing in Northern Ireland is behind the rest of the UK because of the ‘troubles’ and it has taken longer to get started.

Eurest Services’ team at Stormont: (l-r) Colin Prentice, Support Services Manager and Margaret Campbell,
Operational Performance Leader, with Eurest Services' Graham Sims, Managing Director and John Pain,
Marketing Director.


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