catering, cafe, museum, heritage and art

ZSL, London Zoo

Strategic Review of Catering, Redevelopment of Catering Facilities, Contract Tender


The Client

The Zoological Society of London operates London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo.  London Zoo attracts over 1 million visitors a year with catering revenue in excess of £3m. Visitor catering was run in house at both locations, having previously been outsourced unsuccessfully.

The Project

ZSL engaged Boyd-Thorpe Associates in February 2011 to advise on the redevelopment of the entire day visitor catering offer. The feasibility study considered the current catering provision, the sales model, the financial performance at the various catering outlets, the competitor field both in London and outside London as well as the visitor profile.  Recommendations were then made for the development of the catering offer and the future management of the services and a full business plan was worked up to support the capital investment.

Results Delivered

It was recommended that the main catering facility and the outlying kiosks be completely redeveloped.  Boyd –Thorpe Associates worked with SHH on a master plan for the site which saw £4.5million invested into the catering facilities.  The management of the facilities was reviewed and it was recommended that the catering be outsourced to an experienced concession caterer, as there were new market entrants offering much higher qualitative standards.  Throughout the process the team worked closely with the in house caterer, even through the tender process.  The new caterers commenced on site and managed catering from a temporary marquee structure through the transitional period before launching the new facilities in July 2013.

Delivery Model

  • Local competitor research
  • Demographic and economic profiling of potential visitor base
  • Outline operating concept and schematic design
  • Development of master plan with SHH Design
  • Identification of critical success factors, opportunities and potential threats 
  • Evaluation of in-house vs. contracted-out routes
  • Robust cost/benefit analysis
  • Five-year business plan
  • Risk assessment, covering financial, legal, market, economic, management and technical risks
  • Management of the competitive tender 

“We have been working with Fiona and her team since 2010 on a complete review of our catering offering including the redesign of our facilities and to help us find an appropriate partner through a tendering process.  The process disciplines that Fiona has brought to us have been outstanding and her knowledge of the industry first class.  We have made significant progress on our strategy and I would recommend Fiona to any visitor attraction wanting a thorough review of its place in the marketplace, its offering and looking for new strategic direction.” Mike Russell – Finance Director, Zoological Society of London

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