Home: February - March 2006 › Culinary delights
31/03/2006 | Channel:
Catering, Hotels - Restaurants
Searcy's offers exceptional culinary experiences in elegant surroundings
For over 150 years Searcy’s has been creating the perfect culinary experience at some of Britain’s most prestigious venues. The company began by catering for one-off events, and this underlying ethos is still at the heart of its operations. From these beginnings the company has grown into a diverse catering company, providing
critically acclaimed culinary experiences in stunning surroundings.
Richard Tear, Searcy’s CEO explains the company’s incredible history and experience: "The company was originally created as a confectioners by John Searcy,
the official confectioner to the Duke of Northumberland. The confectionary shops gradually expanded into restaurants and outdoor catering facilities, and we have ontinued to trade in these sectors ever since. In the 1960s the company was at the forefront of the wine bar revolution, and we have always kept a keen eye on the retail side of the business."
Today Searcy’s operates from some of the UK’s most prestigious venues, with diverse contracts and services that include restaurants, bars, cafes, and banqueting
and boardroom dining. The rapid move into the contract catering market began with the award of a contract by The Corporation of London in 1990: "The change really
happened when we were awarded the Barbican contract in London," Richard comments. "This is when the contract business became increasingly important to us, and we have spread our wings a long way since then, with current contracts such as the Royal Opera House, the Pump and Assembly rooms at Bath, and the National
Galleries of Scotland. Today we try to use our vast retail experience in all of our contracts to offer our clients the best service on the high street."
Among the company’s venues is its own Georgian Town House, ’30 Pavilion Road’:
"This is a banqueting house, that was originally converted by us in the 1960s, and it has been incredibly busy ever since," says Richard. "The unique part of this establishment is that a client can take the whole house for a day. This means that
they get the sole attention of the staff, whereas if a party went to a hotel, they may be one of four or five using the same facilities. It is a beautiful building, an extremely attractive little Georgian box that is something of a flagship location for us, it is where our cultural heart is, and has an ambience and style that we try to replicate wherever we can."
In 2004 the company invested £200,000 in the new restaurant and café at the Scottish National Galleries, its first restaurant in Scotland. Richard comments: "Our aim is to make Searcy’s a truly UKwide company. We are very happy with the Scottish market, our business up there is growing month by month, and we are very pleased with the way it is developing. I believe that the standards, and the quality we are setting in the area represent the quality of our business as a whole. We want to continue the expansion that we have been experiencing. The company has been growing organically as much as possible, and it has worked well so far. We hope to take on two or three new contracts every year to grow the business steadily."
Searcy’s portfolio of products, and superior dining environments ensure it remains a market-leader in the business. However, Richard admits that there are still challenges in an increasingly competitive market: "I would say that as far as high street retail is concerned, the market is getting a lot tighter, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to be profitable. One of the key challenges that we face is the increasing competition in the market place. There are many new players entering the industry, and a lot of fragmentation so we need to ensure that we keep our products and services as bright, and fresh as we possibly can.
"To deal with this we concentrate, very much, on the value for money side of the business, to make sure we don’t drop too many covers, and keep our volumes up,"
he continues. "However, if we consider special occasion dining the market has been very steady, and despite a slight decline in numbers, average spends have increased. It is also vital that we continue to work very closely with our clients, compared to other caterers. We ensure a constant dialogue with them, there is not one of our restaurants that does not get visited at least once a week."
Looking to the future, Richard is confident that Searcy’s can continue to provide an exciting culinary experience in unique, elegant surroundings: "I believe that we can consider ourselves a marketleader. We care a great deal about our business, and the food in particular. What we put on the plate is vital to our philosophy, we try to deliver our service with genuineness and a real belief in what we are doing, and I think that is what sets us apart in the industry. Together with this we have some fantastic people working for us, who we hope can grow with the company."