Amadeus launches new ‘retail brand’ The Oak Kitchen

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Catering

The first Oak Kitchen restaurant opened in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre last month
The first Oak Kitchen restaurant opened in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre last month
The NEC Group’s event catering company Amadeus has revealed plans to rebrand 21 of its retail outlets across the UK as ‘The Oak Kitchen’ in a £1m, three-year rollout programme.

The caterer, which ran the foodservice operation at Olympic Park North during the London 2012 Games, wants to grow the retail arm of its business by introducing what it hopes will be ‘a recognisable and consistent customer-facing brand’.

“We have recognised that the retail catering side of our business presents us with great opportunities for growth,” said Amadeus’ managing director Kevin Watson. “Up until now the majority of our retail trade has been delivered via our home venues under the NEC Group, and has grown organically thanks to the high quality of our food and service delivery.

“Winning and delivering the catering contract for Olympic Park North at London 2012, as well as providing the catering at a number of other high profile events such as the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Hampton Court, has really helped establish the Amadeus brand and our position within the industry.

“Building on this, we now want to establish The Oak Kitchen as our customer-facing brand and develop a commercially viable retail model we can take to market.   The brand recognition of ‘The Oak Kitchen’ will give our customers the confidence they are getting the same high quality food in any one of the venues we operate. ”

Hearty British food

The Oak Kitchen restaurants will champion the slogan ‘British hearty food’ with dishes including sausage and mash; hot pulled beef cooked in ale on a warm sour dough roll; and British Beef, root vegetable and barley stew served with crusty bread.

Amadeus' food and beverage director Mark Frankl said: “When looking at ideas for our menus we had to make sure that the food offering would appeal to a global audience.  Our customer base is extremely varied; we not only cater for the general British public but a large percentage of our customers are international, attending exhibition shows or conferences at our home venues. 

“Research indicated that traditional, simply prepared, quality, hearty British foods would not only appeal to our British customers but would also appeal to an international audience.” 

Café Vite in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre – one of Amadeus’ home venues - was the first site to undergo the transformation into The Oak Kitchen, with the renovated restaurant opening on 21 January. The nearby National Exhibition Centre will also be included in the rebranding exercise with a rebranding taking place this month.

Key food trends

Emma Thorn, marketing and communications manager for Amadeus, added: “Following the decision to rebrand our retail outlets, we carried out a large amount of research to understand what our customers wanted and current market trends.  

"Our research showed that as a result of the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics ‘Best of British’, ‘retro’ and ‘provenance’ are current key trends not only in foods but across the board, which has already manifested itself on the TV with the surge in shows like Great British Bake Off and The Great British Food Revival.  It also showed in times of austerity, the familiarity of home-cooked foods provides a feeling of comfort.

“After our own experience providing the catering for Olympic Park North at London 2012, we were keen to carry on our Olympic legacy and support our British suppliers.  The outcome of our research helped determine our British approach to the new ‘The Oak Kitchen’ brand, with the idea to create a provenance led personality that customers will relate to.”

Work on renovating the remaining 20 restaurants will be phased over the next three years with the second The Oak Kitchen starting in February at the NEC in Birmingham.

Related topics: Business, Restaurants, Venues

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Posted by Saran,

We dined at the Oak Kitchen @ the NEC during a visit to a show & I was more than pleasantly surprised at the 1st class quality & taste at the food. I had chicken with veg & mash...the mash was beautiful! The chicken was beautiful & the veg - even the carrots were beautiful! I want to go back just got the food!!!! My husband had the cod & chips & it was gorgeous & fresh & tasty. All I can say is wow I'm having cravings. The portions for £10 was large & fulfilling & hearty. AMAZING!!!! In fact it was best part of the trip!

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lack lustre food

Posted by Mrs S Townsend,

Very disappointed with new restaurent in symphony hall.Used to always eat in old one and enjoyed the help yourself salad bar.Now there is no salad bar and only stodgy pies or soups.When going to a concert not everyone wants to eat a heavy meal.Also took away comfortable sofas which we used to enjoy sitting on to view the world go by while we ate or had coffee.Needless to say ,we did not eat there on Sunday 5th may when we came to Worcestershire youth music's gala concert and there was a noticable lack of clientele from former times.Also prices much higher than previously .Bring back the salad bar!!!!

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