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The activities of Compass Group South Africa range from workplace foodservice through sports and hospitality catering to specialised fine dining. It has come a long way since its origins in the early 1980s, Ruari McCallion found.


Compass Group FEATURE


rather special event took place at the World Bank, in Washington DC, in June 2010. The international gourmands, bankers and finance professionals at the headquarters of one of the world’s two international resource institutions were able to sample a taste of South Africa in their own restaurant. This wasn’t simply another exercise designed to raise awareness of World Cup 2010; the two chefs from South Africa, Fiona Kleinhans and Papi Leteka, were there because they had emerged through a rigorous competitive process, examined by judges including Heinz Brunner and Kevin Garratt, both members of the Academy of Chefs, part of the South African Chefs Association (SACA). When they got to Washington they spent five days preparing and serving regional favourites, such as biltong salad, corn bread, lamb stew, ostrich kebabs and melktert. Compass Group is a global foodservice organisation, headquartered near London in the UK. It became involved in South Africa in 1997, when it bought a near-70 per cent stake in Kagiso Khulani Supervision Food Services (KKS), which was founded as a Black Economic Empowerment organisation. Headquartered in Woodmead Park, Johannesburg, it now has over 6200 staff. In common with Compass Group operating companies across the world, Compass SA is organised into specialist divisions, which each have their own distinct branding and style and are focused on particular sectors. KKS continues as the largest single segment of the company, providing management and delivery of food and beverage services to a variety of organisations ranging from large corporations through healthcare institutions to private schools.

Among its high-profile clients are Mercedes East London, where the KKS unit recently received ISO 22000:2005 (food safety management systems) certification after an audit conducted by SGS South Africa, System & Services Certification Division – the first such certification to be received by a foodservice organisation in South Africa. The company’s Risk Operating Manual, launched to all Compass Group SA Operating units in October 2008, is in line with the company’s policy on ensuring security and traceability ‘from field to fork’. In June 2009 it was announced that Compass SA had been awarded a three-year foodservice contract at ABSA, one of South Africa’s largest financial institutions. A significant upgrade to ABSA Towers North Food Court in Johannesburg is intended to bring the facilities up to the global benchmark of the bank’s parent company, Barclays plc. Compass SA has introduced a coffee shop and selected high street brands, as well as its Balanced Choices ‘healthy eating’ brand for the business and industry sector. One of the challenges facing the foodservice industry is rising food prices, which are escalating by as much as 14 per cent in South Africa. By addressing issues such as waste and portion control, and by working closely with its supply chain, Compass SA has been able to extend choice, improve quality and continue to offer value for money. Greater variety, recognised brands and the introduction of healthy eating options have helped to increase participation. A new dining concept has been introduced and installed at Siemens’ South Africa headquarters. Inspired by the Siemens’ German head office restaurant, the new

One of the challenges facing the foodservice industry is rising food prices, which are escalating by as much as 14 per cent in South Africa


Compass Group FEATURE

catering arrangements focuses on raising wellbeing in the workplace. Three choices each of proteins, vegetables, starches, salads and sweets are offered at separate serving stations. A separate call order station offers two options from a range including a rotisserie, pizza, baked potato, stir-fry, grill and pasta. Twenty-three KKS staff at the Siemens facility cater for more than 1000 personnel on-site, through the restaurant, coffee shop and convenience store.

A variation on the corporate catering theme is provided by Gham Gourmet, which was founded in 2000. Its objective is to create a niche in the market through high-street style branded ‘menutainment’. With cooking carried out in plain sight of diners, it is at times quite spectacular, combining irresistable aromas with the visual feast of professional chefs at work. For those who like a walk on the wild side, Compass Game Park Services provides a variety of authentic

The company’s training policy offers on-site development plans and the potential for employees to work up through the company or train in other roles




and exciting catering attractions in Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest tourist attraction. Casual and light dining is available at the Wooden Banana outlets, or visitors can take their time in the Park’s restaurants – but no visit would be complete without a traditional braai, either at one of the Broma Braai fixed locations or a Bush Braai, which provides five-star service under starlit skies. More conventional travelling fare is provided at ORTIA, CTIA, Bloemfontein and George airports by All Leisure Travel. All Leisure is also the brand found at sports stadiums and events. House of Bonne Cuisine and Town & Country Cuisine are Compass SA’s premier fine dining companies. They deliver silver service catering and event management services at prestigious sporting and conference venues. The final leg of the Compass SA table is ESS, which is the company’s facilities services management division and provides services ranging from cleaning to buildings maintenance and supply chain optimisation.







All the Compass SA divisions share a commitment to excellence in all aspects of operations and none of that would be possible without investment in its people. The company’s training policy offers on-site development plans and the potential for employees to work up through the company or train in other roles. It has an integrated approach to broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) and a track record in which it takes pride. It has focused efforts in the areas of corporate social investment, enterprise development and preferential procurement, and has already achieved level 3 status. In October 2007, Compass SA appointed a Director of Transformation, who has executive power and is tasked with delivering the company’s strategy for sustainable and fully integrated BBBEE. Compass SA is a visible manifestation of Compass Group’s concept of ‘think global, act local’. It draws on worldwide experience – but it has developed a style and presentation that is uniquely South African. END


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