“Partnership is mutual reward but also challenging and getting the best out of each other”

Searcys has undergone a period of repositioning and change under its strapline ‘Redefining Dining’. With some notable contract wins at the Royal College of General Practitioners at 30 Euston Square and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the business places great emphasis on long-term partnerships. But how does this work in practice? We spoke with Chris Maddison, sales and marketing director, Searcys to find out more about the approach

Blenheim Palace, one of Searcys contracts, is up 43% in café sales this year, with the two businesses working in partnership on ideas. What is Searcys approach to partnership?

“We invest a lot of time understanding what a client’s needs are, to help us form part of a catering sales solution. With new business, it is interpreting a briefing and reading between the lines to get under the skin of the values, mission and strategy. Sometimes it’s finding an answer that they do not know they are looking for to achieve their strategic goals.

“Commercial imperatives are at the forefront, but it is more than that. Partnership is not just establishing commercial returns, but delivering a catering solution that is integral to the rest of the business by immersing ourselves in what is important and how it is important.”

What is the client reaction to your approach?

“What we don’t do is give them the obvious, there is no cookie cutter solution that we roll out. By definition, we are creating an innovative brand proposition that is bespoke, tailored to individual client and customer needs. This means we are pushing boundaries; sometimes we can go too far, but when it works well, we can challenge in the right way. It is about exceeding expectations rather than just meeting expectations. Searcys invest a lot of time getting the proposition absolutely right.”

How does your approach impact on retention?

“Catering in the last ten years in London and the UK has moved in such a way and at such pace, and has become a very dynamic industry. In the past contract caterers were slow to react to changing consumer demands compared to other sectors such as retail or hotels. What we try to do is take a retail mindset, whether it relates to conference & banqueting, day visitor attractions or high street retail.

“We continually look at our disciplines and our partnerships in relation to how consumer demands are changing, from eating out habits, style and preferences. We keep developing our proposition so we are ahead of the curve, not behind.”

What does partnership mean to you?

“Partnership is mutual reward but also challenging and getting the best out of each other. A good partnership that is mutually beneficial is where you understand each other, and are not afraid to challenge and provoke, and work together to ask difficult questions but work together to find those difficult answers.”

What are your views the recent new contracts at 30 Euston Square and Birmingham Rep?

“30 Euston Square was a real game changer for Searcys, because we had been looking for a venue centred on daytime conference and meeting and events. Our venues tended to be evening banquets, but we knew there was a demand from customers that they wanted the Searcys style in a daytime venue. When the Royal College of General Practitioners contract came up, I think what we were able to take the Searcys values and wrap then into a stunning environment, adding some personality and style.

“Birmingham Rep sits in the sweet spot of our skill set. There are three facets to the contract; the restaurant, brasserie and bar; the café/coffee shop and a C&B space with a space around to sell areas outside the core areas of our brand. There is a lot of expertise in one place.”

For more information please contact Heather Gibson on 020 7534 0392 or email: heather.gibson@epmagazine.co.uk

Pictured left to right, Searcys leadership: Doug Tetley, CEO; Guy Sutherland, finance director and Chris Maddison, sales and marketing director

Photo: Nick Dawe

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