Sodexo wins Wycombe Abbey contract

Independents by Sodexo has won a five-year contract to provide catering at one of the country's most successful girls'™ boarding schools

Wycombe Abbey School is regarded as the top girls’ boarding school in terms of academic results. It has state-of-the-art facilities to help the girls excel academically as well as discover their artistic, musical or sporting talents. The school, set in beautiful conservation-listed grounds of more than 160 acres, in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was founded in 1896.

Throughout its distinguished history it has continued to operate on the guiding values of founding headmistress Dame Frances Dove. Her belief in the pursuit of excellence and the development of each pupil’s character and individual talents is continued today by a new senior leadership team of headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson, deputy head Alex Hems and bursar Anne Bolton. Anne previously worked at Cheadle Hulme, the co-educational independent day school which is another Independents by Sodexo client.

Independents by Sodexo’s philosophy will fit well into Wycombe Abbey’s approach, having secured the contract, which starts in January, following a competitive tender exercise involving two competitors.

Sodexo acknowledged that, as a boarding school, Wycombe Abbey is home for the majority of its students, aged 11 to 18, so the catering is fundamental to ensuring the girls are cherished and nurtured during their school lives. The team were able to showcase their services in different environments by taking Anne and Alex to see Independents by Sodexo in action at Caterham School and Woldingham School. Wycombe Abbey’s senior leadership team also had the chance to see the professionalism and training Sodexo gives its chefs, by enjoying a meal cooked by executive development chef Tom Allen.

All of Sodexo’s proposals were further underpinned by sound investment plans. Anne said it was clear at every stage how much Sodexo cared, listened and wanted the business and this showed in the proposal and subsequent clarification responses. No other company worked harder to secure the contract, they said.

“The health and wellbeing of pupils is of paramount importance to us and we understand that good nutrition is vital to helping them achieve their best, in and outside of school,” said business development director, Candice Eves. “We want to work in close partnership with Wycombe Abbey, integrating our teams into everyday life at the school and encouraging interaction to promote a strong sense of community.”

Wycombe Abbey girls will benefit from nutritionally balanced and varied menus to fuel their brains and keep them alert and motivated. The students will also get the chance to further expand their horizons through Sodexo’s new training course IDme. Linked to the Sodexo Women’s International Forum for Talent’(SWIFt) and designed in conjunction with account director Marlies Hoogeboom, this unique course will provide the girls with valuable insight and training to promote healthy attitudes and build confidence and social skills.

Sodexo will provide meals with ingredients focused on sustainability, seasonality and provenance. “We are not afraid to say that we set our standards very high, putting considerable emphasis on cooking fresh food from scratch and avoiding pre-prepared dishes,” said Candice. “Fresh, nutritious, seasonal food is what we strive to provide and that is why we use the best of British seasonal fruit and vegetables where we can.” Students will be helped to adopt a healthier diet with ethically sourced products.

Head Rhiannon has a vision for the school: “In the next few years the school will become more widely and even more highly regarded as a world leader in girls’ boarding education.”

Independents by Sodexo will use its experience, support and resources in partnership with the school to support that vision.