Over the last two years, Delaware North’s UK operations have quietly grown and been expanded. This year they launch an exciting joint venture with Drake & Morgan and they have their eyes ﬁxed on further developments across Europe
Delaware North has always possessed the potential to become one of the leading foodservice players in the UK and they are quietly but effectively developing their presence. In August they launch a joint Venture at Heathrow Airport with Drake & Morgan. Late last year, they took over at The London Stadium and more is in the pipeline as they plan European expansion.
Doug Tetley became the Managing Director of Delaware North’s UK and European business late in 2014. It coincided with a change in leadership in the US as Louis Jacobs and Jeremy Jacobs Jr, in January 2015, assumed the positions of Co-Chief Executives – a post held by their father since 1968. It illustrated the stability and evolution of the privately owned global player. Charlie Jacobs, the third of the three sons, became Chief Executive Officer for Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, which include TD Garden, New England Sports Network (NESN), strategic real estate holdings and the Boston Bruins ice hockey team. Each of the Jacobs brothers has held senior executive positions as principals of Delaware North over the last several years, and played important roles in leading and implementing the company’s global growth strategy.
The company, founded and owned by the Jacobs family for nearly 100 years, Delaware North generates annual revenue in excess of $3 billion and employs more than 60,000 employees serving half a billion customers at locations that include airports, gaming venues, luxury resorts, national parks such as Yosemite, and sports stadia and arenas that include London’s Wembley Stadium and the Australian Open.
In the UK, Delaware North has long threatened to become a leading player and, under Doug’s calm leadership, it is easy to see the gradual development and growth in all the key markets. Interestingly, the company just quietly go about their business but are building an offer that is both competitive and in tune with the market. In August, they are launching ‘The Commission’ by Drake & Morgan – a joint venture between the two companies, which will be a new casual all-day dining concept created exclusively for the airport. One can easily see that the Drake & Morgan success in key locations can be easily transferred to airport environments and beyond. In 2015, Delaware North took over the catering operations at The London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 25-year contract will see Delaware North take responsibility for event-day hospitality catering, the general admission food and beverage offer, as well as the marketing and management of non-event-day conferences and functions.
“It is more about developing a strong strategic alliance that allows both sides to be genuine partners and to work effectively together”
Delaware North will also be responsible for the marketing, sales and delivery of all tours of The London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the venue’s continued celebrated legacy. The stadium will, of course, become the home of West Ham United next season, which means that DNC are partners with a number of London’s great clubs including Arsenal, West Ham, Fulham and Charlton. Doug may have led a quiet development of the business but one can see that he is also expanding the service offering. It is an interesting extension that Delaware will take on an important sales role at The London Stadium as more and more venues are looking for support from their partners in developing their business lines. “It is a natural step for us too,” noted Doug, “as we want to be able to support our clients and venues more and have more control over the sales activity that does go on within the operations. “Today it is all about business partnerships and there is a real move away from the old client-contractor style relationship where the catering contractor was very much the junior partner in the relationship. It is more about developing a strong strategic alliance that allows both sides to be genuine partners in order to work effectively together.
“One of our advantages is that we can call on lessons and support from our US parent. The US has been arguably a few years ahead in managing foodservice in sports audiences and there are lessons and developments that we can call on and learn from. The Jacobs family also believe in long-term relationships, which supports our focus on strategic partnerships.” Doug’s career has seen him lead a number of food businesses in a variety of markets – from M&B at Browns to operations in the MoD for Aramark to leading the MBO of Searcys and subsequent sale to the WSH Group. Have a conversation with Doug and one will soon discover that he loves great food and hospitality and this is allied to a calm demeanour and astute commercial mind.
The next natural step for Delaware is further development and expansion into Europe, building on the proven US model with a move into parks, resorts and visitor attractions. “Agreed. I think Europe could offer us a number of great opportunities to develop into the parks, resorts and visitor attraction marketplaces. These are becoming increasingly demanding locations with customers seeking far more than they did in the past. There is an increasing pressure for new solutions, innovation and support and again we are well placed to be able to provide support and answers.
“One of the traditional fears has always been that foodservice companies will try to impose brands on a location – and sometimes brands can work very effectively – but there is also a need for care and the bespoke. If one looks at my career it is a mix of both branded operations and bespoke solutions. It is about balance and creating food offers that engage the customer and are commercially successful.
“Hospitality needs to be a business that inspires audiences, offers great food and drink options and provides good commercial management. It is an industry and a craft that is evolving at speed and it does require genuine expertise. Many self-operators just do not have all the skills and it will be natural to see an increasing number of them seek to outsource their operations.
“Our hospitality focus will be on the same core strands that the US business has been successfully built on – stadia, airports, retail operations, parks and resorts and visitor attractions. The challenge for me is to successfully expand the business and it is an exciting time to achieve this. We have developed the UK base and we are looking at opportunities across Europe. We will not just take on any business; we do want strong partnerships and alliances but our belief is that the market and client organisations want real partners too.”
“It is about balance and creating food offers that engage the customer and are commercially successful”