Top 20 fastest-growing contract caterers in the UK revealed


Proper Food and Drink Company – the Oxfordshire-based caterer formerly known as One Event Management – has taken top spot in the annual league table of fastest-growing caterers in the UK.

The company outpaced its competitors to achieve three-year CAGR profit growth of 89%, which sent it to the number one position after finishing fourth last year.

The Proper Food and Drink Company, which made a turnover of £38m last year, has now completed its restructuring efforts, bringing its full range of services from three separate catering companies under one roof.

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Its status was boosted by winning notable sporting contracts such as Formula E and The Ryder Cup in France and also acquiring Absolute Taste.

It was closely followed by Aspens in second place (up nine places from the previous year) and then CH&CO in third place, which also leapt four places on 2018.

This year has also seen a number of new entrants to the top 20 league table including, Delaware North (5), The Crown Partnership (7), Connect Catering (13), Green & Fortune (14), Momentum Services (15) and Vacherin (20).

The report, which is published by EP Business in Hospitality and AlixPartners, serves to demonstrate the strength of the market, its competitiveness, depth and breadth.

Profit growth is measured by compound annual growth over three years, based on statutory accounts.

Qualifying companies have a turnover of at least £10m in their latest accounts and profit of at least £250,000.

At a margin and compound-profit growth level, a comparison of the Top 20 index with last year’s participants highlights a slightly weaker reporting period with average margins down from 7.2% to 6.5%.

This, as ever, is likely to have been partially driven by end-market mix, which can skew annual comparisons given that membership varies year-on-year, but the average compound profit growth has tempered slightly from the prior year of 34.3% to 22.5%.

There have been two ever-present members of the index for the past seven years, led by WSH, the independent sector’s standout player, which surpassed £877m in annual revenues in 2018.

Last year, WSH maintained its operating margins of 7.9%, on the back of 6% sales growth, which highlights its ability to successfully pass through costs of products and services while providing clients with high-quality food and services tailored to their demands.

The other ever-present, Wilson Vale, continues to be one of the leading lights in the sector. The operator achieved in excess of £33m sales in 2018 while operating margins have been maintained above 10%.

This is highly impressive as the business has been able to continue to grow through winning additional contracts while maintaining one of the highest operating margins in the sector.

The Top 20 league table of contract caterers by three-year profit growth can be found below:



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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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