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The Brookwood Partnership becomes CH&CO Independent

Sponsored: This month, The Brookwood Partnership becomes CH&CO Independent. Its MD, Deborah Homshaw, tells us more about this significant move

Posted by Julian Owen | August 25, 2018 | Catering & hospitality

1. Why is Brookwood becoming CH&CO Independent?

The CH&CO family has grown through both organic growth and strategic mergers, such as the one with Brookwood. Whilst smart mergers brought know-how and helped drive innovation and success, they also created a complex portfolio of businesses. The time is now right to simplify the structure under one strong identity. 

2. What drove the decision to change? 

Like Brookwood, the CH&CO name is strong and well-respected, but it is also a Royal Warrant-holding company, so we (and our clients) absolutely wanted to be part of that. When Brookwood first started out there were only a handful of competitors, but today competition is as strong as ever. We start the new school year as CH&CO Independent, with a formidable team and the structure and requirements any school would be proud of.

3. How did you come up with the new identity concept? 

It’s the result of research and consultation. We took a good look at ourselves and who we are and what makes us stand out from the crowd. We have a great responsibility to help children nurture a positive relationship with food – it’s what our reputation is built on and will continue to be. We may have a new name but inspiring a lifelong love of great food through informative, inspiring and interactive food experiences remains our raison d’être. 

4. What does the change mean for the independent schools that you work with?

It’s absolutely business as usual. Our founding principles are as true today as they have always been. They will continue to be relevant to our talented people, and our customers will receive the same great service, innovations and expertise. Our clients will also continue to benefit from the expertise that the wider support and resources of CH&CO provide. 

5. Are you adapting your services to tie in with your new identity? If so, what will be changing? 

The change is all about defining the great work we’re already doing, our key messages and what we stand for. Other than that, it really is business as usual. We will continue to challenge the perception of school feeding. Our focus actually isn’t ‘school food’, it’s great food that captures our customers’ imaginations and just happens to be eaten at school!

6. Did the schools influence the rebrand? 

Throughout the process, we engaged with clients, be that as part of the research or informal chats over a coffee. It was very important to us that everyone understood and supported the move, and the overwhelming response was ‘it makes sense’.

7. How important is the education sector to CH&CO? 

Very! It’s quite likely that we will continue to brush paths with the children we feed today as they progress through adulthood. It’s why it’s so important that we give children the best start in life and why we invest heavily in nutrition, wellbeing and sustainability, to help us do whatever we can.

8. What has the feedback been so far?

We’ve had excellent feedback from clients, consultants, the industry and our teams. Everyone agrees it’s the right step forward and we’re all excited about the future.

9. Where do you see the business in the next five years? 

In short, CH&CO Independent will be continuing to challenge the concept of school food. At the moment we are feeding the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age – ‘Gen Z’. Who knows what the trends will be then? What I do know is that the catering service will continue to be judged on the whole experience of dining and not just the food. 

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