Sunderland AFC and the Lindley Group have entered into a multi-million pound, five-year catering partnership which sees the UK's leading sports stadia caterer reinforce its 13 year association with the Barclays Premier League Club after a three-way tender for the provision of catering services at the Stadium of Light.
Lindley Group has managed all aspects of public and hospitality catering at the Stadium of Light since Sunderland AFC moved from Roker Park to its new home in 1997. During that time the Club and Lindley have worked together to establish the Stadium of Light as one of the country's leading hospitality venues, and in 2009, during one of the toughest years the hospitality industry has experienced, turnover from non-match day events doubled and the venue celebrated a record year for its events business.
The Stadium of Light has also scooped a number of awards in recent years. Last year the venue received the Business Tourism of the Year Award in the 2009 North East England Tourism Awards along with up a number of other regional honours at the Durham and Wearside Business Awards and Portfolio Business Awards. The Club has just added to its accolades by gaining national recognition for excellence as a business and events facility in the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence.
In Sunderland AFC's quest to ensure that it continues to forge ahead in developing the full potential of its hospitality business, a full strategic review of its catering services has been undertaken, which included exploring a number of alternative options including managing the catering services in-house.
Gary Hutchinson, Group General Manager- Catering & Events at Sunderland AFC, says: "We have worked with Lindley since awarding them the full-service catering contract when we moved to the Stadium of Light in 1997, and under their tenure our hospitality and events business has flourished.
"However, after 13 years we felt it was appropriate to review the options available in the open marketplace. We considered large national caterers, smaller regional players along with the opportunity to bring the catering in-house as we have a lot of catering expertise within the business. After initial research we drew up formal tender process for a shortlist of three potential candidates which included the Lindley Group."
Hutchinson adds: "We have very ambitious plans to grow and develop our conference, banqueting and major events business which is really taking off since our inaugural Oasis and Take That concerts staged here last year, and we wanted a catering company which we could work in partnership with us towards a common goal.
"As part of the selection process we benchmarked every aspect of service and found Lindley to be the strongest contender. Lindley provides a good strategic fit with our business; they offered the greatest flexibility in terms of operational support; and their structure and approach combines the benefits you get from the scale of a national operator with the focus and attention you get from a local caterer."
Paul Biffen, Sales & Marketing Director of Lindley Group, adds: "We're immensely proud of the results we have achieved with Sunderland AFC at the Stadium of Light. Over the past six years the revenue generated from non-match day events has grown by 90%, and we are delighted to be given the opportunity to work in partnership with the Club to continue raising the bar and the profile of this award-winning venue."