Lindley Venue Catering – the specialist sports stadia catering division of the Lindley Group – is embarking on an £8.2m contract with Sheffield Wednesday FC to develop the matchday catering, hospitality, conference and banqueting, and non-matchday events business at Hillsborough Stadium.
The five-year contract, which has a further two-year extension option, will see Lindley Venue Catering assume responsibility for all catering services at the 39,812 capacity ground from the start of the 2011-12 season. Lindley’s remit includes working with the League 1 club to develop a new hospitality-focused website as part of a package of sales and marketing initiatives and new ideas being introduced to boost revenue from non-matchday business – with particular emphasis placed on increasing conference and banqueting sales.
Lindley Venue Catering is also aiming to increase per capita spend on the public concourse on matchdays through the launch of new concepts, strong retail branding and meal deals all aimed at encouraging more fans to purchase refreshments at the ground and tempting existing customers to uplift their spend.
During the 2010-11 season, catering at the stadium was managed in-house, but the catering business was put out to competitive tender following the acquisition of the club by former Leicester City and Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric. Lindley Venue Catering was invited to tender having managed public kiosks at Hillsborough when Sheffield Wednesday FC was under previous ownership.
Hillsborough Stadium offers a wide choice of facilities to suit all types of event from small meetings and private parties, board meetings and training sessions through to exhibitions, fairs, team building activities and larger conferences. The Charlton and Springett Suites can accommodate up to 250 guests and can be combined to provide space for 500 guests for larger events, while the Sheridan Suite provides the ideal setting for trade shows and party nights.
Paul Aldridge, SWFC’s Vice Chairman, said: "The 2011-12 season ahead marks the start of a new era in Sheffield Wednesday’s 144-year history and we have great ambitions for the club – both on and off the pitch. We have first class facilities at Hillsborough and we want to ensure that we offer superb catering to provide a great all-round experience for everyone who visits the stadium.
"During the tender process the team at Lindley demonstrated that it shares our vision and has the passion, commitment and sales and marketing expertise to attract new business and at the same time, enhance the matchday catering experience for our fans and corporate hospitality guests. We have no hesitation in welcoming Lindley back to Hillsborough as our long term catering partners."
On entering into the joint venture with SWFC, Adam Elliott, CEO of The Lindley Group, said: "Because of the sheer variety, flexibility and high calibre of the facilities at Hillsborough, there is tremendous scope for developing the catering, events and hospitality business at the stadium, and we feel very privileged to have been chosen to work with SWFC to maximise the revenue potential which can be derived from bringing new non-matchday business to their home ground.
"Our aim is to match the quality of the catering we provide at Hillsborough with an equally adept sales and marketing programme to broaden awareness and extend the reach of the club to a wider customer base. We recently launched a new website for another of our football club clients and through optimisation of the site, their conference and banqueting sales have increased by 20 per cent and we are confident that we can achieve similar levels of uplift at Hillsborough."