NHS trusts in Leicestershire are home to 550 buildings which provide medical and mental health care for the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Within the group, there are three major hospitals - the Royal Infirmary, General and Glenfield hospitals, which collectively have almost 1,500 beds, providing a range of medical services as well as primary, community and mental health care.
This collective group of NHS trusts appointed support services and construction company, Interserve, to deliver estates and facilities management services, including the delivery of catering, cleaning, maintenance and security.
Across all sites, the retail and food service opportunities are limited due to space and footfall. For the majority of locations, vending machines are the only way in which food can be distributed and or served. As part of Interserve’s commitment to the trusts, it wanted to revitalise the food offering.
Previously, the restaurant space offered a traditional menu, providing three meals a day. In order to revitalise this area to make it more of a destination, the trusts wanted to throw out the rule book and create inviting, innovative foodservice and retail spaces where visitors, staff and patients would want to spend more of their time.
Interserve’s retail director, Sam Shutt, worked with foodservice consultant, Jackie Snaith, and British manufacturer, Victor Manufacturing, to create a fresh new food service concept that offers a cost-effective solution and flexibility within the hospitals.
A whole new creative concept was created, LEat. The LE is a very deliberate acknowledgement of the postcode location of the hospitals - LE. Added to the word elite - as this is how the name is pronounced - it depicts ‘the very best’. This was deemed a fitting tribute for both the market-leading strategy of the concept and the food that it offers.
The LEat brand centres itself around offering fresh, high-quality ingredients, great taste, plenty of choice, a modern presentation, served in a relaxed and welcoming environment. A suite of sub-brands were created to signify the different areas in which the LEat name would be used across the sites (ie LEat Vend, LEat Meet etc), as it was important that the brand became synonymous with retail catering. LEat Street was the brand chosen to represent the restaurant area of the three hospitals, catering for up to 550 seats at the infirmary.
By introducing the modular units, we are able to keep the food offer fresh and new and can easily adapt and change menu items to reflect changing food trends with minimal disruption and downtime
It was always the intention to create a relaxed, stylish environment that served meals and snacks that staff, visitors and patients wished to visit. Therefore, it was important to be able to offer fresh, new meals and food concepts that appealed to a wide audience group. In order to achieve this variety and flexibility in their food offer, Interserve worked with Victor Manufacturing. As a British manufacturing firm, the Interserve team was able to specify exact requirements for Victor to quickly design and build custom-made serveries that best suit the needs of the cuisine. Each modular unit can hold up to 80 servings, which makes the service quick and hassle-free. From a design point of view each module was individually branded to match its food offer. Little touches were able to be incorporated, such as matching the wood panelling on the servery to the furniture, to give a cohesive look and feel. Staff training was given on all stations, so staff were confident about each food offer.
The foodservice offer across the county’s hospitals is now more innovative, fresh and exciting. The environment has been transformed by the introduction of music and contemporary soft furnishings. As a result of offering a higher-quality food option, sales have increased by 45% compared to same period in 2013, and the average spend per head has increased by £1.
By working in close partnership with Victor Manufacturing, Interserve was able to transform the foodservice areas of all three hospitals, from conception of the idea to completed installation, in less than eight months. By introducing modular units, disruption was kept to a minimum and impressive cost savings were achieved.
Shutt said: “Working with a British manufacturer meant we could individually specify what we needed, right down to the use of heated drawers and how many soup wells we wanted. By creating this market-style front-of-house feel, we’ve been able to produce an entire front-of-house server point for a third of the cost of installing a traditional front-of-house area.
“By introducing the modular units, we are able to keep the food offer fresh and new and can easily adapt and change menu items to reflect changing food trends with minimal disruption and downtime.”