Page 1: Introduction
Sodexho is the world’s largest food and management services company. Set up in 1965 by Pierre Bellon with a single catering unit in Marseilles, Sodexho has grown very quickly. It is French owned, with shares quoted on the Paris Bourse (stock exchange) as well as on other leading stock markets. The company has 280,000 employees worldwide. Sodexho’s UK operation accounts for 17% of the company’s total sales turnover. It focuses on local delivery of services on a site by site basis, with 50,000 people working to deliver 3,800 contracts.
This case study examines ways in which Sodexho UK is developing its staff, particularly at managerial level, so that they are better placed to produce high levels of commercial performance (high sales, good profitability) as well as high quality service to customers. In particular, the study focuses on how Sodexho is looking to its senior staff to think and operate in new ways in order to sustain the company’s prominent position in a rapidly changing business environment.
High quality service
Firms need employees who are able to develop business skills that will enable them to manage for themselves the business operations within their own working areas. For example, trained chefs who manage a catering unit for Sodexho need to be able
to deliver not only high quality catering and high quality service but also high quality commercial management of their particular unit. However, managers cannot do this alone. They need to develop styles of managing that bring out the best in the people in their charge, so that everyone within the organisation feels committed to it and to the aims that the company has set for itself.
In the modern business world, many organisations prefer to contract out activities that do not lie at the heart of their own business. Often, these contracted out activities have a large service element eg catering services, cleaning, grass cutting, plant maintenance. Sodexho operates in this service sector. It offers service teams to organisations within, for example, business and industry, education, healthcare and defence. It also services prestige events in sport, entertainment, leisure and the arts eg Royal Ascot, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and the Chelsea Flower Show. While about 85% of Sodexho’s UK business is in catering, the company also provides services such as cleaning, landscape gardening, grass cutting (eg along motorways), reception services, and building and plant maintenance eg for Ford (UK). Typically, Sodexho’s presence at contract locations consists of service teams of between 4 and 10 people, although for major events the number will be much larger. In catering, key positions consist of the chefs at each site and their District Managers.