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£1.5m conference contract for Wilson Vale

04 March 2013

Ashby-based catering company, Wilson Vale, has gained a substantial new contract on home ground. Under a three-year deal worth £500k in annual turnover, Wilson Vale has gained the catering contract for College Court Conference Centre at The University of Leicester.

The brand new 123-bed conference centre is due to open on 1st October 2013 when a team of 13 Wilson Vale staff will commence a breakfast, lunch, dinner and hospitality service for delegates and visitors, as well as catering for weddings and other events.
Formerly a hall of residence, College Hall has seen a £14 million investment by the University of Leicester to transform it into a leading residential conference venue. Once open, it will be the first time in the University’s history that an all-year round residential conference facility will be available, and it will be the only dedicated residential conference centre in Leicester.
Andrew Wilson, co-founder and managing director of Wilson Vale, said: ”The University has breathed new life into the building and we feel tremendously proud to have been chosen to be their catering partners. To have such a prestigious client on our doorstep is a wonderful way to start our new financial year.
“Our own purchasing philosophy of sourcing locally and our fresh food ethos will ensure that the University and the community will have the very best in terms of food, service and facilities.
”The main building is Grade II listed, designed by the famous 1960’s architects, Sir Leslie Martin and Trevor Dannatt, so we will be echoing in our food offer quirky 60’s ideas to reflect the culture and heritage of the building. “
Steven Crawford, conference centre director, said:” I am delighted that Wilson Vale have been appointed as caterers for College Court. In addition to the wealth of experience that they will bring to us, being a local business themselves I know they are keen to use local suppliers. Their passion for both food and people and the drive to deliver excellent service fits very comfortably with the culture being developed for College Court. I look forward to working with Wilson Vale as we grow College Court into the first class conference centre for Leicester and the region”.
The new facility will enhance the status of the University, support research and teaching activities. One key aim is to create a centre which allows the University to work in partnership with business and industry, as set out in the University’s Strategic Vision to 2015, as Steven Crawford explained:” "I believe the Centre will play an important role in supporting the strategic aims of the University and, in the challenging times that we all work in, will provide a new income stream and return. I can confirm that we have already taken academic bookings for 2014 and our plan is to take additional bookings, such as weddings and other celebrations, to supplement conferences and provide a valuable asset for community use”.
An interesting facet of the relationship between the University and its new caterer is that both parties are keen to draw on the student body for casual catering staff.
“We call this ‘earn and learn’ where our students can not only get valuable work experience but they will be given an opportunity to develop their life and social skills within a busy and vibrant catering environment,” said Steven Crawford, who started his career in hotels and has since worked in a number of Universities including Cambridge, Warwick and Sheffield, and more recently was conference centre director at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire.


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