food to lure workers back

Caterer Compass Ireland hopes to use food to lure workers back to the office

Food trucks and outdoor eating will be on the workday menu for staff at the likes of Google, Vodafone and the NTMA

Tara Dalton (left) co-founder and owner of Irish Village Markets, with Deirdre O’Neill, MD Compass Group Ireland. Photo: Julien Behal

Ellie Donnelly  

August 24 2021 02:30 AM

Companies with large numbers of staff working from home are trying to tempt workers back to the office with kimchi and poke bowls, according to one of the biggest corporate caterers in Ireland.

Compass Ireland has teamed up with Irish Village Markets (IVM) to put food trucks and outdoor eating on the workday menu for staff at the likes of Google, Vodafone and the National Treasury Management Agency to get them behind their desks again.

The partnership comes as companies prepare to welcome the return of staff on-site, as Covid restrictions continue to ease. However, it is still official Government policy to work from home if possible.

“Companies are looking at different ways to attract staff back to the office in the months ahead and to reinvigorate company culture after a very challenging time,” said Deirdre O’Neill, MD of Compass Group Ireland.

Food-service revenues for running canteens have declined with the closure of workplaces over the past 18 months, the company said. In that time Compass has had to renegotiate terms with some corporate clients to reflect radically changed circumstances.

Ms O’Neill did not disclose the commercial terms of Compass’s deal with IVM, although it would be typical for a market operator to pay fees to access somebody else’s customers.

“The launch of Irish Village Markets at Compass Ireland client sites will give employers a new way to reward and re-energise employees as they return to workplaces. It will also allow us to support local, independent food suppliers,” she added.

While there is an expectation that most companies will provide hybrid working options, “we’re confident there is demand for a service like this in all seasons”, Ms O’Neill said.

Compass Group Ireland employs 1,500 people in the Republic and Northern Ireland and generates annual revenue of around €70m. Currently 70pc of the food it sources for the Irish market is produced here. The food-service business says it works with 180 Irish food producers, spending €35m a year on Irish food.

Launched in 2005, Irish Village Markets has expanded to 12 locations in Dublin, including Mespil Road, Spencer Dock, The Grand Canal and Sandyford Industrial Estate.

It works with over 35 vendors serving a range of cuisines ranging from Spanish, Mexican and Lebanese, to Korean, Brazilian, and Hawaiian.