Cater a new region

September 5, 2019

dnata Catering is moving in on the North American market with new builds and aspirations. Robin Padgett, senior divisional vp, tells Julie Baxter how

Identify the need

Growth in the U.S. market is clear and customer demand has inspired dnata to up its game in the region. Padgett explains: “We know there is demand from our current customers for us to be there and we’re now scaling up across the U.S. as well as recently opening in Vancouver, Canada. We think there’s room in the region for a culinary-focused caterer like us and a desire from airlines to lift culinary quality onboard.” Then on Monday, airline leaders from over 100 airlines worldwide will come together to focus on the future, with a day of thought leadership. Many will be coming direct from FTE Global in Las Vegas held beforehand. Over a dozen airline ceos and United Nations representatives will lead the debate.

Assess the challenge
The geographic size and diversity of the region has presented challenges, with differing state processes and procedures but Padgett insists: “We’re learning through expansion. Delivering to the ambitious timelines we’ve put on ourselves is also challenging but= it’s driving us to be nimble, make decisions and be customer ready. Finding world-class chefs in smaller centres can be challenging but we’re putting a greater focus on training and apprenticeships globally and encouraging our talent across the world to be mobile.”

Build on what you have
The growth follows the acquisition of 121, whose experienced management team remains at the caterer’s JFK unit, delivering there and leading the U.S. expansion. At the same time, dnata has brought in its global experience, with a new building to handle growth.

Develop new
The company has also opened new-build kitchens and has more planned. Padgett says: “Building new is a different challenge and takes time, juggling relevant regulations and finding the right talent. It’s been an exciting 12 months establishing ourselves in four centres and there’s even more to come.“

Focus on need
He adds: “We think we can lift the standard of culinary across the U.S. and we’re getting positive feedback from customers already. Bringing more international flavours and experience to the offer is a differentiator for us – genuine fivestar culinary and creativity. We also see great opportunity in leveraging our VIP expertise and technology, and growing that line of business across our global network.