Catering Scotland

Entiér: When Innovation Meets Education

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Entiér: When Innovation Meets Education

October 21
20:07 2013
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When Peter Bruce, Colin Henry and Scott Jackson left Compass Group to set up independently with the Olive Garden’s Mike Reilly and Brian Collie, the new venture combined trusted management in onshore catering with 25 years’ experience in offshore foodservice. Since then, Entiér Ltd – the award-winning firm formed by the five men in 2008, has defied the odds to become a serious force in both the offshore and onshore catering and facilities management markets.

Starting a business from scratch just two weeks before the credit crunch struck would not, on balance, have been an advisable strategy, but if anyone had a chance to make it work, it’s these guys: ‘We formed Entiér at a difficult time but with the solid conviction that we could deliver a superior service to clients,’ explains Colin Henry. ‘We believed there was a place in the market for a local company that is committed to delivering a quality service and to genuinely putting something back into the community. ‘We also wanted to demonstrate to current and potential clients that, by working with us, they could be recognised independently as organisations that care about the welfare of their employees.’ With 28 contracts on their books and a diverse range of clients from private education establishments to offshore units and vessels in the UK and overseas, Entiér have already cornered more than ???? percent of the market in Scotland. ‘Our customer base is pretty varied,’ explains Managing Director Peter Bruce. ‘We are catering for people at most stages of the life cycle, from children at nursery level to senior school teenagers, young adults at university, office workers and offshore personnel – all of whom have different nutritional tastes and needs. ‘We’re up against much larger, more established operators in Scotland but we’re holding our own,’ he continues. ‘Around 60% of our business is in the offshore UK market, with the remaining 40% located as far afield as Canada, Singapore and the USA.’ So, what’s the key to the company’s success? The secret, according to Colin, is their local grounding allied to an intrinsic autonomy: ‘I think one of our strongest USPs is that our corporate governance lies in Aberdeen, from where we operate all our contracts,’ he explains. ‘We have a local philosophy which underpins everything we do.’ It certainly helps that each of Entiér’s directors is also a shareholder who lives locally, so if a big decision needs to be made they merely have to gather together in a room and debate it between them until a suitable conclusion is reached: ‘There are no corporate hoops to jump through or different levels of sign off,’ continues Colin, ‘and this ultimately benefits our clients because decisions become easier to make quickly.’ However, the company’s success is not merely a result of the management structure; Entiér has also been innovative in creating its food concepts. With all of its UK offshore units receiving fresh, local produce – including Scotch Beef on a twice weekly basis – their commitment to sourcing the highest quality ingredients has led to some commentators labelling them ‘the Marks and Spencers of the North Sea’: ‘We’re operating in an increasingly cut-throat market,’ admits Managing Director, Peter Bruce, ‘and petrochemical companies are trying to attract personnel to work on ageing assets. They need a competitive edge, and an innovative food offering is one way of helping achieve this.’ As time-served, hotel-trained chefs, Peter and co-director Scott Jackson understand what it means to invest in the core product: ‘Because we worked our way up through offshore kitchens and became chef managers, we recognise the difference that really good food can make to an offshore team,’ says Scott. ‘Indeed, feeding people on an off­shore platform is a vital com­po­nent of our service, in part because good food maintains the morale of the workforce, which in turn im­proves safety, wellbe­ing and per­for­mance onboard the units.’ It may also be why, unlike some other operators, one of Entiér’s founding principles was a commitment to refrain from profiting from the food they buy in: ‘We are a profitable company, of course, but we do not derive any additional income from the base ingredients,’ explains Peter. ‘We have a net pricing policy with our suppliers, so any discounts we may receive from them we immediately put back onto the plate. This means our chef-managers can spend every penny they are given on the raw ingredients, and I believe that is a major factor which sets us apart from our competitors.’ But the action isn’t merely taking place on the high seas. When the Olive Garden Catering Company became part of Entiér it had a mere three contracts under its umbrella, but with the influx of new expertise and support, the company now operates at 14 sites within Aberdeen and the surrounding area, on a turnover of £4.5m. The latest win is offshore training specialist Survivex, and four new catering staff from Entiér will be deployed at Survivex’s purpose-built 53,000 sq.ft. training centre in Aberdeen for the duration of the contract. The new, state-of-the-art facility incorporates a 120-seat restaurant with an on-site Starbucks coffee shop and deli, and had been specifically designed to offer Survivex’s staff and delegates a modern, high street-inspired catering experience within their own premises. However, despite the company’s popularity, Entiér’s management have kept their eyes firmly on the future and with the launch last year of its apprenticeship programme, Fresh Olives, the training and education of untapped talent has become a major focal point: ‘Fresh Olives is our own award scheme which seeks to identify and recruit the offshore stars of the future,’ explains Peter. ‘It’s aimed at fourth year secondary school leavers and was launched in Aberdeen in October last year, attracting over 70 pupils aged between 15 and 16 from four of Aberdeen city’s schools.’ The competition – believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland – is backed by the Scottish Government’s Business to Education programme, and offers two winners a three-year paid apprenticeship, followed by a full-time job. With assignments developed by executive chef, Mark Donovan, the pupils participate in a series of set tasks and practical assignments – developed and aligned to the national school syllabus – and judged by Peter and independent judge George McIvor over a six-month period. Ten pupils made it to a final in 2010, with Rebekka Cormack and Danielle Ritchie, both of Dyce Academy, being awarded apprenticeships which commenced earlier this month. ‘We felt from the outset that viable work opportunities for our region’s school leavers are incredibly important, and that this was something we needed to do to secure future talent in the industry,’ admits Peter. ‘With a serious dearth of quality apprenticeships throughout the UK, this for some is a golden opportunity and Fresh Olives marks the start of the first rung on a very credible career path.’ And what a path that could prove to be. With the public sector suffering under the pressure of swathing government cuts, and much of the private sector being squeezed by the same recession that was facilitated by the credit crunch, today’s school leavers are facing a shrinking pool of prospects. However, with fuel prices increasing on an ongoing basis, the offshore industry appears to be in rude health and as long as the fields keep yielding and the drillers keep drilling, the people who work at the coal face will need a steady supply of good, honest food, friendly faces and efficient hospitality. That’s where Entiér come in, and it’s where they excel.

www.entier-services.com

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Aberdeen-based offshore and onshore catering firm, Entiér, has been thriving of late; CateringScotland.com meets MD Peter Bruce how the firm has continued to stay one step ahead of its competitors…

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