May 27, 2017

Strathclyde University – Hitting the ground running

university-pictures-050Whilst Duncan Colville has only been Head of Retail Catering at Strathclyde University for a matter of months, he has already played a key role in streamlining its coffee offering; reducing the number of its suppliers from five to two, introducing new coffee machines and offering a new blend of coffee bean in the process.

“I worked very closely with Matthew Algie Coffee Company and went out to their factory to have a look at the roastery,” explains Mr Colville, who has responsibility for 11 catering outlets across the university campus. “We carried out a blind tasting session in order to select the coffee bean that we wanted to use and we also offered it to our staff for them to try.

“The previous coffee offer was very disjointed and there were a variety of different tastes in the coffee that we were offering. Students could go to one unit and get a Starbucks and then go to another unit and get a Grumpy Mule coffee with a totally different taste. By streamlining the coffee beans we’ve now got a better balance so we’re getting an improved taste of coffee throughout the outlets. As we sell coffee in every single one of our outlets it was absolutely vital that we get the offering right across the entire estate.”

The success with which the university has been able to overhaul its coffee offering is testament to the relationship that it enjoys with Matthew Algie Coffee Company. “It’s been a really fruitful relationship,” adds Mr Colville. “We opened a new café on 19 September and they have given us quite a bit of funding assistance for signage and for new coffee machines. One of the coffee machines is Perspex covered so that the internal workings are on display because it’s in the engineering royal college. Matthew Algie have also provided additional training for all our staff in their coffee academy.”

“The improvements we’ve been making to our sandwich and coffee offering ties in with the fact that students are becoming increasingly discerning and focused and quality. They might not want to spend a great deal of money but they’re definitely looking for the best product for the price.”

Duncan Colville, Head of Retail Catering

Despite the extensive improvements that have been made within its coffee operation, it has not been the only area that Strathclyde University has been looking at recently, as Mr Colville outlines: “The other major area that I’ve looked at since arriving here is the sandwich offer. We used to make quite a lot on-site and as I’m a registered food safety manager I immediately noticed the potential risks. I therefore approached another company that I’d used previously. Again after comprehensive discussions regarding different packaging and fillings and various site visits we were able to enhance the Nourish brand and developed new packaging and label that is produced by a local company in Glasgow.

“The improvements we’ve been making to our sandwich and coffee offering ties in with the fact that students are becoming increasingly discerning and focused on quality. They might not want to spend a great deal of money but they’re definitely looking for the best product for the price. It’s all about offering the best value and ensuring that we’re able to compete with the High Street as we’re located only a few minutes from the city centre.”

Given the significant progress that have been made already, it is clear that Strathclyde University students can look forward to even more improvements in the months ahead.