Reorganisation of catering services
All Catering & Events, Kitchens, Stores & Food Procurement staff now have access to a online document library that will be updated throughout the process.
If you require access - or need any further information - you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
There is currently a formal proposal underway to reorganise the Catering & Events, Kitchens, Stores & Food Procurement teams within Campus Services. The following outlines the reasons and principles behind this proposal:
Catering services do not aim to make a yearly profit – in fact they are partly subsidised by the College. Because of this, we need to be responsible custodians of the income we receive from the College that would be otherwise reallocated to core academic services.
The catering and hospitality sector has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and our operations have not been immune to this. In response to the pandemic, we had to fully close all of our outlets for an extended period of time and have only recently been able to reopen a small number of these. Whilst various government schemes have softened the economic impact, it is still the case that we are due to post a substantial and unsustainable deficit this year if no action is taken, particularly as we are approaching a point where most government support is coming to an end..
Even with the beginning of the new Academic Year not too far away, it is anticipated that use of our facilities on campus will be significantly changed for the foreseeable future. Firstly, a number of our outlets are due to be temporarily repurposed into communal student space, as outlined in previous communications. Furthermore, whilst a shift towards mixed mode teaching will impact the number of people on campus in 2020/21, we also anticipate longer-term changes in staff and student behaviour as we all adapt to a more fluid working style. More people spending more time at home will result in reduced footfall on campus, meaning fewer customers in outlets and fewer events to support. It is anticipated that these behavioural changes will be more permanent as behaviours change.
In this more changeable and unpredictable environment, it is crucial that catering services are flexible and dynamic, able to respond to developing trends.
The unexpected impacts of COVID-19 have exacerbated already existing structural challenges within our services. We have a large department made up of many teams, and we are proud to offer salaries and benefits that, on average, far exceed comparable positions on the high street. However, historically these teams have been developed reactively and in a way that has placed them in silo to one another, adding to these structures in order to meet peak trading times and various cycles in the Academic Year. Given the fact that sales can fluctuate by an average of 50% between cycles in the Academic Year – and a decreasing catering revenue stream from summer bookings during non-peak periods - it is evident that a greater level of scalability is required – a need made all the more urgent given the new post-COVID trading environment.
We know that access to a modern, affordable and high-quality catering offer is essential to the staff and student experience on campus. Additionally, it is also important that we act responsibly with the income we receive from the College and take as many measures as we can to respond to the challenges we now face. The largest single component of our expenditure is our staffing team, and therefore unfortunately, we are now in the position where we must make changes so that we best reflect the needs of our community.
Whilst we can’t talk about specifics due to confidentiality, we feel it is vitally important that you are made aware of some of the key principles behind these proposed changes, and what they will mean for you.
- The changes to staff we are proposing are essential for the long-term financial sustainability of our catering services. Without reductions - and with the expected drop in our commercial revenue - we would require our College subsidy to increase by over threefold. This would shift vital funds away from core academic services.
- Whilst we anticipate long-term behavioural changes on campus, we intend to reopen as many of our outlets as possible in the new Academic Year within government and College safety guidelines. Although we cannot place a definite timeframe on when those outlets that are currently closed can reopen, we will be closely monitoring the developing situation.
- Our goal is not to weaken or minimise our catering services. Instead, our priority is building a catering operation that is more agile, cross-skilled and better suited to be scaled up and down according to fluctuating demand. To support this, we will be introducing a bespoke training programme so that our staff have access to high-quality development tools and are confident working across the entire catering spectrum.
- We are trying to protect as many front-line roles as possible. We cannot build the modern, dynamic catering service we wish to see without a strong team in place to deliver it. We will engage constructively and transparently with our staff to identify any areas that may require additional protection.
Finally, we want to reiterate that this is a position no organisation ever wants to find itself in. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing challenges to the point where inaction is no longer a responsible nor sustainable option. This process will be difficult on so many levels, personal and professional, for everyone across our teams. We will be putting in place every possible means of support to help our people throughout.
The full consultation and recruitment process is anticipated to last until mid-December. We will be keeping our staff and the entire College community informed as this process continues throughout the coming months.