Canteens no longer cooking

ARE days of the traditional staff canteen numbered?According to a major survey of corporate catering organisations they are because the vast majority of workers "graze and go" at best or eat a sandwich at their desk.

ARE days of the traditional staff canteen numbered?

According to a major survey of corporate catering organisations they are because the vast majority of workers "graze and go" at best or eat a sandwich at their desk.

The future of staff catering will be a retail outlet offering a wide range of

products and services with a cashless payment system and zero subsidies.

The survey was carried out across 80 different workplaces by catering services consultancy Catercheck Ltd, and involved 71,000 personnel.

Vic Tippins, managing director Catercheck, said: "The combination of

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changing consumer demand and the drive by business to eliminate subsidies and reduce overheads suggests that the days of the traditional staff restaurant are numbered."

The Survey of Catering Policies, Performance and Trends surveyed staff

catering in the finance, public utility, IT, manufacturing and media sectors. The survey compared results for 2003 to a similar study carried out by the Industrial Society in 1993.

Three out of five clients report a drop in the number of diners as compared with the boom year of 1993 when there was a comparable increase.

Mr Tippins, added: "Today many people 'graze and go' or skip lunch altogether. While the quality of food is very high, caterers will have to work much harder to win back staff diners and meet the changing requirements of clients."

These clients are focused on saving money and reclaiming expensive office space. All survey respondents report an increase in tariffs and reduction in overall subsidies and staff numbers. And looking ahead, 87 per cent want to make further savings: 56pc want to reduce the subsidy while 44pc want to eliminate it altogether.

The survey shows that to date, contractors have cut the cost to clients by

increasing prices and reducing staff but according to Mr Tippins this cannot go on.

"Either subsidies will have to rise again or caterers must win back

dining customers through innovation, and increase revenues further by

providing added-value services, such as post room management and even staff fitness suites, which fall outside their clients' core business."

The UK food and catering services sector is a £2.69 billion industry with

some 19,342 outlets.

n What do you think about staff canteens? Does your company have one, do you use it properly or do you "graze and run". Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail:


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