To grasp the opportunity – The story of MPM

To continue with our recent features on both the growing importance of mobile catering operations at special events and stadia, the following is the story behind one of the leading exponents of such catering in the UK – operating from Scotland down to Southampton.

MPM is still a relatively young company, but is operated by a team that possesses a wealth of experience. The original company, P&C Morris, was formed over fifty years ago.  As the company grew it acquired Express Cafes in 1997 and went on to become the leading mobile catering company in the country operating under the name of Express Cafes, before being acquired by Compass Group in 2002.

In the ensuing years, Express Cafes, under the umbrella of Compass Group and the management of Mark and Paul Morris, was the Mobile Catering and Bar Contractor for such prestigious events as Twickenham Rugby Stadium, NEC Birmingham, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, as well as almost every major Air Show, Boat Show, Agricultural Show, Flower Show and Motor Racing circuit in the UK.

Early in 2009, Mark and Paul Morris made the move to start a new family company which would reflect the more personal and quality-driven values so essential to client relationships and customer satisfaction.

It was a brave move as 2009 was arguably one of the hardest of times to launch a NewCo with the financial crash in full mode but they possessed the experience and a belief. However, they worked their way though, have faced the ups and downs of commercial business over the last difficult nine years and today stand looking at an opportunity where many experts believe that this market will see growth of over 35% in the next five years alone. In the next ten years, it is even touted that the market size could double. This is an opportunity that many in other markets would like to see.

Why the growth opportunity?

Very simply, the belief is that many today are seeking “experiences” in their off time and therefore will be increasingly drawn to special events, festivals and sporting occasions. At the same time, the dwell times at sporting events are set to increase.

Is this true? Certainly the statistics suggest so and in truth there are very few companies that possess the experience and the potential to maximize the potential. MPM arguably is one such company. It has endured the “austerity” years and is now well positioned for growth alongside the market. If they can achieve organic growth in line with the market’s projected growth, then this alone will set them well for the future.

As they stand today, MPM currently boasts an impressive portfolio of events that include the Southampton Boat Show, RHS Flower Shows, Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, Bramham International Horse Trials, The Royal Cheshire County Show, Surrey County Show and The Royal Berkshire Show. On top of this, MPM operates at the NEC, Shrewsbury Town FC and the retail food operation at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

“It is a common phrase today but when I say that we have been on a journey that is exactly true,” comments Mark Morris. “It has not always been an easy journey. We have faced some tough times and I would say that we have learnt from those experiences. I think anyone that has been in business over the last decade will have seen the good and bad days. It is a highly competitive market and mistakes can be painful and costly – which is why experience is so important.

“However, I agree. We can see a market that is about to take off for a whole number of reasons and we are positioned right in the centre. We have the experience and we want to still see this business grow. Of course, as the market does develop as forecast, there will be more players that seek to enter but again this is a market where experience is as important as resource. Providing a great service sits at the heart of our philosophy. There is nothing more important to us than seeing customers enjoying our food and events prospering.  I have no doubt that we will face more challenges as the market evolves but importantly we have the experience and a team that wants to deliver that service level with passion.”

“Our challenge now is to grasp the opportunity that exists – but, as you say, at least we sit in a growth market that offers such opportunity. That is exciting”.”

It will be fascinating to watch as MPM grow into their next chapter and see if the market does grow as forecast and just how the consumer behaviour’s do change. The one thing that all sides do agree upon is that the special events market – whether sporting, cultural or festival – is set to only increase as the emerging generations seek new experiences where they are happy to spend greater levels of revenue in return for something unique. How will mobile catering evolve in line with this?