Business Irish

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Brooks' fans in for a treat with overhaul of Croke Park services

Catering giant Aramark Ireland to transform food and drink experience

Garth Brooks: sell-out concerts at Croke Park. Getty Images
Garth Brooks: sell-out concerts at Croke Park. Getty Images
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

The hundreds of thousands of Garth Brooks fans who arrive in Croke Park this July could be among the first to notice a change in the way drinks and food are served throughout the stadium.

The catering giant Aramark Ireland is planning to transform the experience of sports and music fans who visit Croke Park.

Aramark won the contract to provide catering services at Croke Park earlier this year. The seven-year contract is worth over €9m a year.

"We are investing a lot in new systems, which will help us analyse the needs and wants of the fans when they arrive in Croke Park," Aramark chief executive Donal O'Brien told the Sunday Independent.

"We want to improve the fan experience and ensure that the fans are getting a more comprehensive and efficient service no matter where they are in the stadium – whether they are coming in as a schoolboy into the terraces down on the Canal End or they're in a corporate block."

O'Brien said that Aramark would increase the number of bars and catering outlets available around the stadium by between 30 and 40 per cent over the next year-and-a-half.

"One of the big problems on an All-Ireland final day or a concert is that you have 82,000 people there and everyone wants to get served in 15 or 20 minutes," said O'Brien. "You can just imagine the numbers of staff that you need to facilitate that. We want to automate as much as we can and make everything as cashless as we can."

The changes would come in gradually, over the next year-and-a-half, explained O'Brien.

O'Brien told this paper that Aramark expected to land a major European contract over the next few months.

"We have been asked to tender for some European contracts with some very big brand names," said O'Brien. "We're expecting at least one of those to emerge over the coming months – these would be Europe-wide deals worth €10m-plus."

Aramark has seen its export business surge over the last few years.

"Our export business started from a very small base – and now, over 20 per cent of our revenues are generated outside of Ireland," said O'Brien. "If you look at our accounts, you can see that the level of business that we are generating outside of Ireland is growing every year. The level of business in Ireland is also going up – but the real growth is coming by us in effect exporting our services; as our customers move out into EMEA territories, we move with them."

Aramark Ireland, which is part of the American corporation Aramark, saw its profits increase by almost one-fifth in 2012. Its financial results for 2013 are due out later this year. "You'll see a similar trajectory to what we've had over the last few years," said O'Brien, when asked about the upcoming results.

Sunday Indo Business

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