CASE Studies

Elior is an award winning contract caterer that brings a passion for food and service to its clients, meeting their exact needs at the local level. They ensure innovation and the highest standards in every area important to health, safety and the delivery of great value, responsibly and sustainably.

This powerful ethos means that employees are required to achieve Level 2 and Level 3 Food Safety and Health and Safety courses. Delivering these courses with consistency has been a challenge. Anna Watson, Senior Safety Manager, Elior UK explains.

“Elior had been using four external training providers to provide our Food Safety and Health and Safety courses over the last six years. We had different pricing from each training provider and the quality delivered varied on the provider and the individual trainer.”

Managing multiple providers

Managing all four training providers was not a small job, as Anna describes. “A member of the team had the job of dealing with all training enquiries from across Elior sites, booking people on the right courses with the right training provider, tracking their progress, checking invoices against the numerous pricing bands and charging the costs back to each site. In addition, we had to closely monitor the quality of the training ourselves by attending courses.”

Elior had decided to use third parties because they didn’t have the time or resource to do it themselves. However, the amount of time spent managing the four partners, and managing the training administration was significant. The situation was unsustainable.

STS was chosen to provide the Food Safety and Health and Safety training courses across the UK.

Consistent high standards

“We immediately saw a difference,” Anna is pleased to report. “Not only did we introduce one competitive delegate rate across the business, but we now have consistency in high quality standards and professionalism in the trainers. Both junior and senior members of staff that have attended the courses have provided excellent feedback on the training they have received.”

“As a result of the provision of high quality training from STS trainers, assessed by CIEH, we have seen pass rates increase, with many achieving over 90%.”

It wasn’t long before Elior had the confidence to integrate STS into the business further by engaging them to do all their training administration.

Taking the pain away

"STS deals with all training enquiries from across the business, book people onto training courses and ensure courses are full,” said Anna. “This leaves the Training Manager to ensure we are meeting our training needs, rather than administration tasks.”

“We used to offer just three courses per month but we now offer on average 8 courses per month with a minimum of 10 people attending.”

“STS manage all the financial administration too by invoicing sites directly. Every week, we get a tracking sheet that tells us who is attending which courses and when, and every month we get a full breakdown of who has passed, who has failed, issues encountered and recommendations.”

“We have managed to offload a lot of administration to STS saving at least one day a week in administration time alone. It is working really smoothly for us. STS has taken the pain away!”

Food Safety Audit success

As a direct result of more people going through the Level 2 and Level 3 Food Safety and Health and Safety training courses, Elior is seeing its Food Safety Audit scores increase.

“When Environmental Health Officer’s visit they can see that we have got our certificates. But fundamentally, our working practices have improved because there is greater awareness of food safety and health and safety across the business.”

“Working with STS has been seamless. The team at STS are very receptive, taking everything onboard.” said Anna. “In addition, they also update us on the latest news and issues, such as E.coli, giving us advice and guidance on how to manage these threats across our business.”

STS adds value

"We have been so impressed with STS that we are now using their people to expand our Auditing team,” reveals Anna. “We have seven independent Auditors that work with Elior, however, we have struggled to find the right people to meet our auditing needs. So we turned to STS to provide quality Auditors throughout the UK that are able to adapt to our business and our standards. With the quality standard associated with STS, it is no surprise that we are really pleased with the quality of their work too.”

“There is no doubt that STS has had a significant impact on training delivery at Elior,” Anna concludes. “The time and money saved, combined with the ease of working with STS has resulted in a seamless transition and an improvement in quality standards across the business.”


The Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) is a joint committee of Local Authorities that acts as a purchasing agent for its member authorities including Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Cambridge, Norfolk and Warwickshire County Councils, as well as private and foundation schools, hospitals, leisure centres and civic catering and single service authorities.

ESPO’s role is to negotiate competitive food purchasing, source new products, monitor quality and ensure legal compliance. The organisation takes total responsibility ensuring the foods bought comply with all current food legislation.

By keeping their contract and supply system flexible, ESPO is able to provide a highly personalised service to meet its customers’ needs that is both professional and cost effective. Its total combined member procurement value is over £700 million per annum.

Ensuring quality standards

“Delivering value to our customers is a critical part of our service,” explains Karen Grewcock, Group Buyer for ESPO. “In order to do this to a high standard, we need to ensure that every one of our suppliers meet a set criteria so that we can deliver on our promise.”

“The processes we had in place to check the certification of suppliers and the quality of the products and systems the food goes through were ok, but were not in-depth or sufficient to ensure that our suppliers were going to meet the needs of both ESPO and our customers. They were not robust and certainly lacked an independent view.

“Furthermore, these processes were largely focussed upon large suppliers,” explains Karen. “This often resulted in smaller suppliers being unable to tender for contracts because obtaining certification to standards such as the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety were felt to be out of reach.“

ESPO was looking for a support service where the whole spectrum of their suppliers could be assessed to achievable but stringent standards. 

“We needed an independent partner that could assess every one of our suppliers, regardless of size, to ensure that we are supporting both our customers and our supply chain effectively,” said Karen. “And that’s when we turned to STS. In STS we have found a professional partner that provides us with expert advice.”

A long term partnership

In 2003, ESPO selected STS as its food supply chain management partner focused on managing the certification of food suppliers and providing professional advice where required. 

“Our relationship with STS has grown from strength to strength,” comments Karen. “We now use the STS Code of Practice for Suppliers to the Public Sector as the only accepted standard for all our suppliers to be certified to as part of tender requirements.” 

Clients, suppliers and ESPO all benefit

Karen knows that this approach has benefited everyone in the supply chain. ”The quality of service that STS delivers to our suppliers means everyone benefits. The availability of professional advice from the team at STS means that we can call on them at any time to help us with food safety issues that arise. 

“We are able to provide a quality service to our clients, giving them peace of mind that they are being provided with safe and wholesome foods at all times, from reliable sources and at competitive prices,” Karen continues.

“Our suppliers benefit from being professionally certified, not just in winning a contract to supply ESPO, but also in winning other contracts through demonstrating that high quality food safety standards have been achieved and maintained. 

“In addition to all this, working with STS supports our risk management systems by ensuring suppliers that do not achieve the STS Code of Practice for Suppliers to the Public Sector are removed from the approved lists immediately,” Karen continues. “We can also promote that we are compliant with the 2008 Pennington report that recommended all public sector suppliers should be audited by third parties. And I’m pleased to say that since working with STS ESPO has not had any legal challenges due to the ESPO due diligence demonstrating the robust nature of the processes now in place.”

In conclusion, Karen believes that “the professional services and positive approach to food supply chain management by STS has helped to reduce food safety risks to our clients and also has helped to maintain our moral obligation to ensure that only safe and wholesome foods are sourced”.


ISS Facility Services – Healthcare is part of the international ISS group. The group has grown over the past 20 years and they are one of the leading hospital support services suppliers in the UK.

The challenge

ISS Healthcare wanted to ensure that both their company and their suppliers were adhering to all the necessary food safety regulations. Without trained internal assessors in food manufacturer and supplier safety, they decided to use an external body.

The solution<

With years of experience with supplier assessment, STS was the ideal partner to also provide a comprehensive solution for the food suppliers to ISS Healthcare.

ISS Healthcare awarded their first contract to STS in 1987. Initially this was for training their cleaning staff and ward hostesses in both food safety and health & safety, and then the contract expanded to include development of company food safety documentation, and STS implemented a comprehensive auditing programme of each catering operation, a programme still undertaken annually.

Creating relationships

We have developed a successful working relationship with ISS Healthcare over the last 20 years.

With a vast knowledge of their company, services and suppliers, built up over the years, we give specific information and guidance that meets their exact requirements. STS continue to provide audits of their catering operations and supplier assessment to help ISS Healthcare meet and exceed high standards of food safety expected of hospital caterers.


Originating in South Africa in 1987, Nando’s casual dining restaurants expanded into the UK in 1992. Now with 264 trading restaurants in the UK and Ireland, the Nando’s promise is to give its customers ‘excellent flavour and quality’.

Senior Technical Manager, Robert Kitchen joined Nando’s in 2006 to enhance technical expertise in the area of food safety and health and safety within the business.

At the time of Robert’s appointment, Nando’s was transitioning from being a relatively small business with 90 restaurants, to a much larger business. With scale came the realisation that the customer and the law would expect higher operational standards of the restaurant group.

Making a step change

With the increase of food being served every day, it was Nando’s challenge to maintain and build on high quality standards across all of its restaurants.

“That’s when we turned to STS. Although STS were conducting our Food Safety Audits, I wanted to work closely with them to make a step change in our approach to food safety,” said Robert.

“With STS’s depth of experience and consultative approach to food safety, I knew that together we could work with and support Restaurant Managers, rather than being seen as the police. STS’s job was to ensure that we deliver to the agreed standards on a day-to-day basis.”

STS was aware of the certain aspects of day-to-day operation where Nando’s was not the ‘best in class’. In order to reach the accolade, Nando’s had to ensure that all the restaurant teams knew what was required of them, and set out to achieve it.

The first step was to review the Ops Check, Nando’s safety audit, which had evolved into a lengthy ineffective process that measured finger marks on the entrance door and the storage of hot food as of equal importance.

STS and Nando’s reviewed the audit and removed all the points that did not map directly to standards in the safety manual. STS and Nando’s also applied a weight to elements that were of more importance, such as meeting storage and hot-hold standards.

Improving food safety standards

“For me, the point of an audit is to identify where things are going off-track so you can improve standards.” said Robert. “The process needs to be consistent and honest, and with STS, I know that they are applying the same standards, regardless of which member of the team is doing an audit.”

To help achieve this consistency, the Nando’s Food Safety Audit prioritises Critical Standards. If a restaurant fails to meet this Critical Standard, they will lose all the points for the section of the audit in which the standard falls within. This allows restaurant managers to focus on what is important day in, day out.

The results

When Nando’s began the audits, approximately 40% of the restaurants would get through an audit without breaching a Critical Standard. Nando’s is now running at 80%, with over 90% of its restaurants awarded a 5 star hygiene rating by the local authority.

Robert attributes this progress to a number of factors, and cites STS’s ability to work with him and the restaurant teams to identify where improvements can be made.

“STS has proved that they are happy to work with us as part of the team,” said Robert. He added: “For me, the acid test has always been in conversations that I have with the managers about their experiences of audits. Although they don’t always like being audited, they do understand why it’s happening, and that STS is working with them to improve food safety and health and safety in their restaurants.”

Nando’s now reviews its audit with STS annually to continue to advance its food safety and health and safety auditing process, and to further increase its standards.

“Our long term supplier relationships are with organisations that appreciate our brand and work with us like our extended family,” concludes Robert. “We have built a strong relationship with STS and I am confident that they will continue to help us to improve further.”


Nottingham University is a well-established, reputable university. It has a student population of around 25,000. The university’s catering department is extensive and it alone has an annual turnover of £32 million+.

The challenge

Nottingham University has high standards of food safety and health & safety, and wanted to ensure that they were maintained and where possible improved across all of its catering outlets and halls of residence.

Due to the substantial number of halls of residence and restaurants, it was difficult to organise and monitor safety checks. Maintaining consistently high standards would involve investing considerable time, resources and finance.

It proved more cost effective and to employ the expertise of STS.

The solution

We were able to help the university in a variety of ways, all of which enabled them to maintain the necessary high standards, whilst saving precious time.

We first conducted an initial assessment of the university’s operations. By analysing and understanding their requirements, we tailored STS’ ‘Simply Safe’ Food Safety and Health & Safety documentation to the university’s own specific needs.

Management were trained on the system and subsequently the training cascaded down to all food handlers.

Ensuring ongoing results

To ensure that high standards were maintained in all areas, STS introduced annualaudits. These enabled us to check that the correct safety standards were being followed. In each catering operation, documentation and practices are observed.

The auditor also spends valuable time with the manager, discussing practical solutions for areas requiring more attention.

STS understand that to maintain these standards the workforce needs to be motivated. This is why we provide each catering operation with a comprehensive scored report, based on their overall standards achieved. The units that achieve 90% or above during their audit receive the STS ‘Certificate of Excellence’. This creates healthy competition between outlets; which is encouraged, as it helps to drive standards upward.

Audits are unannounced throughout the year, to encourage team to maintain the highest safety standards all year round.

STS have provided further support to the university by responding to technical queries, updating documentation and development an ‘eye-catching’ HACCP poster for display in each catering operation.

Creating relationships

Over the years we have developed an excellent working relationship with staff and management alike. This, along with an established proven track record of success with the university, has meant that they were happy to renew 5-year contracts with STS, which are ongoing.


Thomas Cook is the longest serving, and one of the best known, brand names in travel. They operate in all parts of the travel industry – airlines, hotels, tour operators, travel and incoming agencies. They have a strong international presence across all sectors.

The challenge

Tour Operators and accommodation providers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their guests. The industry has taken considerable action to meet these requirements, including the development of a comprehensive Code of Practice, pro-active auditing programme and re-active investigations in the case of any illness outbreak.

With the demand for safe accommodation, the ‘blame-claim’ culture and legislative requirements, there is a need for Thomas Cook to set comprehensive standards for accommodation, assess performance and provide clear guidance. This includes standards in keeping of the country’s legal requirements.

The solution

There is a very limited number of companies with the experience and personnel to undertake such work. Thomas Cook identified the need to utilise qualified and experienced Environmental Health Officers with good communication skills.

STS have both the personnel and the experience, working with the Federation of Tour Operators to develop both the preferred Code of Practice and audit layout.

Creating relationships

STS have developed a successful working relationship with Thomas Cook over a number of years. We have provided telephone support for any queries, a worldwide auditing programme and where necessary, support for hoteliers implementing food safety management systems based on HACCP. 

In the event of increased illness in a unit or resort we examine the illness figures to determine any trends, etc. and in appropriate cases travel to the resort to investigate and identify the potential cause.


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