ACC Liverpool struck a seven-year catering and hospitality deal worth approximately £45 million with global hospitality service provider Centerplate. The Arena and Convention Centre will now become Centerplate’s flagship location in the UK and European market.
“We have never underestimated the crucial role that catering plays in enhancing the visitor or delegate experience,” said Bob Prattey, chief executive, ACC Liverpool. “As we embark on the next phase of the development of the site, the Centerplate team has demonstrated that it has the global expertise, creative flair and a passion for engaging with local suppliers and the local community, which not only delivers measurable results and enables us to evolve this internationally renowned arena and convention centre, but also ensures that it reflects its Liverpool heritage and remains rooted in the local community.”
All of the catering and hospitality services at the venue, which is home to BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena, have been managed by The Lindley Group’s Heathcotes Outside division since it opened in 2008. ACC Liverpool has selected Centerplate, which acquired The Lindley Group in April, as its catering and hospitality partner after putting the business out to competitive tender at the end of the initial five-year contract. Centerplate will now assume responsibility for all on-site public and hospitality catering services at the venue’s existing facilities, along with the option to service the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool, which is due to open in 2015 as part of the expansion of the ACC Liverpool complex.
“Being able to draw on Centerplate’s wealth of experience as North America’s leading event hospitality partner has been invaluable in securing a seven-year catering and hospitality deal at this prestigious multi-function complex,” Adam Elliott, president, The Lindley Group; and executive vice president, Centerplate. “Working with some of the top entertainment venues, convention centres and sports stadia in the U.S. and Canada, Centerplate has brought some terrific insights into identifying opportunities and maximizing the potential afforded by a facility on the scale of ACC Liverpool.”
During the summer, Centerplate Chief Design Officer John Sergi worked in partnership with the UK team to develop and re-launch the concourse catering services and facilities at Echo Arena. New menus and catering units were rolled out under the new ‘Mersey Eats’ and ‘Mersey Drinks’ branded retail concepts, which have been established to showcase regional gourmet dishes and the produce of local suppliers. The arena’s chefs have collaborated with the Allerton restaurant, Spire, to develop the new menus, with Liverpool hotspot Alma de Cuba to create bespoke drinks, such as the ’Strawberry Fields Cocktail.’
The quality food offering includes hand-held fare, such as ‘Scouse Dog’ – a pork hot dog made by local supplier Andrews, and topped with Liverpool ‘scouse’ and pickled red cabbage; nachos served with Mrs. Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese sauce; and ‘Chicken Peppercorn Wraps.’ Bottled beer has been replaced by draught beer dispensers on several kiosks to speed up service, and the venue is now offering an improved, wider selection of quality wines and soft drinks.
The new concepts made their debut at the Rod Stewart concert in September and generated a 32 percent sales increase compared with catering revenue generated at a concert by the same artist and with the same attendance levels last year.
Following the awarding of the new contract, Centerplate plans to review and develop all other aspects of the hospitality and catering services at the venue, including enhancing the Arena Club Class hospitality box packages; re-launching the Galleria coffee bar with new menus and new service offerings; implementing a catering and hospitality apprenticeship program; and funding the establishment of a community farm project.