BY JEREMY CLARK
AMI Group has evolved the US catering model to maximise flexibility in its service to air and cruise. Andrea Pratt, director of product development, explains it all to Jeremy Clark
Many changes have taken place in the airline and supplier model over the past 30 years and this has perhaps been most noticeable in the American markets where change sometimes seems to have become the only constant.
AMI Group has been at the heart of it as a leader in the field and one of the largest and most respected players. It is somewhat different to the average internationally recognised ‘caterer’, as AMI’s director of product development, Andrea Pratt, explains.
“Well, first off, we don’t actually own any kitchens.The basis of our model and success is built around the flexibility we offer our customers as a broker of all their products and services. That means we source precisely the products and services they need and liaise with those companies they ask us to consider.”
It sounds potentially complex as the requirements of airlines can vary from detailed specifics to a “give us some ideas” scenario, but Pratt responds: “We can provide a premium service to any situation. Our model allows us to be a total or partial solution for a client and adapt to suit their need”.
AMI’s rise over 28 years has been impressive. Current revenue (just shy of $200m) covers the US, Europe and Middle East and the three main divisions of AMI Group: In-Flight, Wines and Duty Free. Still a privately held company, AMI Group is headquartered in Atlanta with four offices in the US and one in France and Ireland.
The group’s impressive turnover is managed by just 32 experienced professionals with company founder, Thierry Leduc as chairman. Denise Poole and Dan Day – long time familiar faces at IFSA – head up the In-Flight and Wines sectors, and their wealth of industry understanding and experience is shared by the entire team.
Explaining how this broker model actually works in practise Pratt explains, “Our customers fall into a number of categories. There are airlines, of course, like American, British Airways, Emirates and Southwest, which all have very differing needs. And then we also work with their service suppliers and other distributors such as Gate Group, LSG Froup, Flying Food Group and Michael Lewis.
“Beyond this we also establish key supplier contacts who effectively function as additional partners too, so the likes of Oakfield, En Route and Pourshins and a large range of associated product suppiers.”
The company is also a major supplier to the vast and growing cruise industry, sourcing a wide range of wines and premium beverage brands for Duty Free onboard delivery.
“In short,” concludes Pratt, “you can see us as the glue that cements all parts in the onboard supply chain in a tailored fashion adapted and developed for each and every client”.