LSG Group and Kaelis announced a strategic partnership on June 5, the day before the 2023 World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) began in Hamburg, Germany.
During that three-day trade show, Stuart Forster, Editor of Onboard Hospitality, interviewed Erdmann Rauer, Chief Executive Officer of LSG Group, and Federico Heitz, CEO of Kaelis, to learn about the partnership and its goals:
Stuart Forster (SF): What are the reasons for announcing the partnership between LSG Group and Kaelis?
Federico Heitz (FH): I think the idea is to do what is best for passengers and for customers. In order to do that, it’s great to have a holistic approach – an ecosystem where we work together to give a consistent experience to the customer. That’s why we decided to work together because LSG Sky Chefs has the culinary expertise and we at Kaelis have the equipment expertise. One without the other is difficult. You need to get some food on the plate and you need a plate to put the food on.
The idea is to present joint innovations to customers. Sustainability is also another focus, so innovation and sustainability and the increase in customer satisfaction and passenger satisfaction are what we can work together to achieve.
SF: Where or who did the idea come from?
Erdmann Rauer (ER): We’ve known each other for many years. This is a long relationship, and we decided now it was a good idea and the right time to do it.
Strategically, whatever we’re doing needs to add value to the customer. And when you look at the LSG Group portfolio, this three-pillared strategy – catering, onboard retail and food commerce – is a natural fit and very complimentary. The whole idea of bringing together food and packaging – it’s almost a no-brainer. And the other point is when we look into partnership, not only the products and the customers, it’s also the cultural fit of both companies.
We have known each other for many years. We dated, so to speak, and we got to know each other. Now we really became real partners. So we’re building on a very healthy foundation to explore these opportunities – almost first-time really publicly.
The whole idea of bringing together food and packaging – it’s almost a no-brainer. And the other point is when we look into partnership, not only the products and the customers, it’s also the cultural fit of both companies.Erdmann Rauer, Chief Executive Officer of LSG Group
SF: Can you streamline things?
ER: It’s all about benefits. This is not equity, this is a partnership. According to marketing, a strategic product partnership. That’s how it started and I think there’s a first step to knowing each other and having in mind that the customers and the salesforce accept it.
SF: Do you think that what you guys are doing is groundbreaking?
FH: I really think so, yes. It’s a definitely holistic alternative for the customers…not only with Kaelis but also with the other industry partners for a consistent experience. I really think it’s not about price but about value. I think it’s definitely bringing them better value and the best value for customers.
ER: At the LSG Group we have about 36 joint ventures worldwide in about 50-plus countries. We have a broad base. And what I want also is to give Kaelis access to our strong and large to create value for our other partners throughout the world. So it’s for their benefit, for our benefit and for existing partners. So we’re creating, basically, an ecosystem where we can create value and it is unique.
SF: Where’s it going from this initial step?
FH: I think it will only get better. We’re going to work on joint projects and joint innovation workshops for our customers and work together on projects.
ER: Every partnership has its commencing point. After being around and knowing each other for many years, the cultural DNA fits. Now the next step comes, where we really have to commercialise it for the benefit of both companies and customers.
This is a joint vision. We like to do it the very traditional way – one step after another and that’s what we’re doing. I think that’s our nature. Otherwise, we over-excite everybody and cannot fulfil our promise.
SF: In terms of the practicalities or the timeline, can you give some indications of the steps we’re likely to see?
ER: We are already full-throttle.
FH: We’ve been gradually working together for many years, getting to know each other and understanding that the values of the companies are a compatible match, also proving the level of service that we can provide. We have both won significant awards this year. So now it’s about putting the teams to work together.
SF: When do you think we can expect to see results of the partnership that we can report on?
ER: Customers can already come to the LSG Group and say, ‘Do you have a solution to make my equipment more sustainable?’ Yes. Let’s start with our partner Kaelis or, vice versa when a customer is asking Kaelis for a solution for pre-ordering a meal, then they would direct them to us, for example. We are already working on that.
Kaelis is very much into sustainability and I like that. The sustainability of packaging is a very strong signal for our common airline customers to showcase that they behave sustainably. The visibility that it is sustainable is in the daily touchpoint of products. And that’s an example of how we make the perfect match.
SF: Is there anything else that you would like to say in regards to LSG Group and Kaelis working together in partnership?
FH: I think both companies have the same values and, in many aspects, the same vision. And we are about innovation, we are a customer-centric company and we think long-term. And I think these are three pillars that, from my experience with Erdmann, we share. These are the most important, always under the umbrella of mutual trust and respect with customers, teams and partners.
ER: We are very resilient and flexible. We are hands-on and always look for the best solutions, but I think we’ve combined two strategies and eventually they come together.
We’re not yet done with the exhibition but what I hear so far is that our partnership was an excellent choice, and what we have done so far and take it further. After the exhibition, we will examine what our salesforce is telling us, quantifying it and then giving it another push.
I think both companies have the same values and, in many aspects, the same vision. And we are about innovation, we are a customer-centric company and we think long-term.Federico Heitz, CEO of Kaelis
Read more about the announcement of the partnership between Kaelis and LSG Group on the companies’ websites: