Kent Cricket joins forces with Lindley to expand catering services

Kent Cricket has selected Lindley Venue Catering, the specialist sports stadia catering division of The Lindley Group, as its partner to develop match day catering, and conference, banqueting, and events business at the club’s sports facilities in Kent.

The five year contract with Kent Cricket comes within weeks of Lindley being signed up by Gloucestershire CCC, and Essex CCC extending its existing contract with Lindley for the 2012 season.

Lindley Venue Catering has been recruited for its expertise in growing revenue and business from non-match day events at professional sports venues. As well as being brought on board to manage and develop all of the match day catering at Kent Cricket’s main St Lawrence ground in Canterbury, the company will also operate matches at the club’s County Ground in Beckenham and The Nevill Ground at Tunbridge Wells.

Lindley Venue Catering will be employing a dedicated sales coordinator who will be based at the St Lawrence Ground, and is also investing £40,000 to develop on-site food retail offer and extend the catering facilities in the Club Members’ area. The caterer is also planning to introduce bespoke catering to match the different requirements of visitors attending County and CB40 matches, and FPt20games.

The Lindley Venue Catering team will take control of catering and events for Kent Cricket working in partnership with the Club’s in-house catering and events management team, which until now has been solely responsible for managing the match day and non-match day hospitality services.

Jamie Clifford, Kent Cricket CEO, says: “We have ambitious plans to increase the use of the Club’s facilities in general, and St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, in particular, where we have recently undertaken an extensive refurbishment programme which has included the creation of state-of-the art conference and banqueting suites.

“Our in-house catering and events team has done a fantastic job in establishing a great reputation for the quality of the Club’s catering and hospitality, and it’s because of their success that we have reached the stage where we now need to increase the resource to manage the incremental business which they are generating.

“We looked at the options of either expanding our in-house team or looking externally for the right partner to join forces with us on our venture to grow our business. Having met with Lindley Venue Catering we opted for the latter as they meet all the Club’s requirements, and they have the capability and skill-set which will enable us to fast-track the next phase of our business expansion plans.

“With their extensive experience in sports stadia catering they have some great ideas for enhancing match day catering for both public and corporate hospitality entertaining, and the icing on the cake is their proven expertise in developing non-match day business at other sports venues.

“Just as importantly, we share a common business culture. The level of investment Lindley is making in the club’s facilities and marketing support demonstrates their commitment to the Club, and, from a commercial perspective, the annual minimum level of income they have guaranteed from catering will give a substantial boost to the Club’s revenue.”

Adam Elliott, CEO of The Lindley Group, says: "Kent Cricket has made great strides forward in putting the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, on the conference, banqueting and events map. The ground is one of the premier county grounds in the country and it occupies a fabulous setting in the heart of Canterbury. These inherent natural assets have been enhanced by an excellently executed refurbishment and the development of a new website to promote the new facilities, so the Club has already laid a strong foundation for us to build on.

“Having worked with other sporting venues on optimizing their websites, we have achieved increases of up to 20% in conference and banqueting sales, so we know the results which we can achieve. We also aim to maximise revenue from match day catering by fine tuning the food offering for different types of event.

“County games spanning four days clearly have a longer dwell time, attract an older audience and require a different catering approach to one day twenty20 games which bring in a younger demographic. So, for example, we will be installing our Frank’s Original New York Streetdogs® branded retail offer at the ground to cater for this younger audience during one day matches.”

Elliott concludes: “The Club and Lindley are jointly committed to achieving the common goals of delivering a platinum standard of public and hospitality catering on match days, and making the St Lawrence ground a prime destination for conference and event organisers and private functions. It is the partnership approach and the drive and enthusiasm shared by both parties which has given us the confidence to commit to guarantee Kent Cricket a substantial minimum income from our management of the catering and events business.”

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