Lack of cafe custom costs job

The Compass Group has made a food manager redundant in Dunedin because of a lack of custom at hospital staff cafes.

As part of its 15-year hospital food deal with Southern District Health Board, the company took over the staff cafes last October.

A restructuring decision document released to the Otago Daily Times by the Public Service Association shows Compass instigated the staffing cut because of a lack of revenue. 

A food and beverage manager who oversaw the Dunedin Hospital and Wakari Hospital cafes is out of a job, the April 4 decision document shows. Revenue from retail sales and functions was ‘‘significantly lower'' than expected, and profit was ‘‘considerably less'' than expected.

‘‘The existing management structure at the SDHB Dunedin and Wakari Hospital cafes had been modelled and budgeted based on achieving a much higher level of revenue and profit.

‘‘Unfortunately, this has not been achieved, and [Compass] is seeking to make changes in order to reduce labour and management costs to a level that reflect the current site revenue and profit,'' the decision document says.

Some other roles had been reconfigured in the restructuring, which takes effect this month or ‘‘soon after'', the document says.

Public Service Association organiser Julie Morton said revenue was down because staff did not like what Compass was selling in the cafes.

The food had changed ‘‘significantly''.

There were fewer choices and the fare was less healthy and nutritious.

‘‘People aren't buying the food.

‘‘There's nothing there I'd want to buy, the food choices have just dropped so much.

‘‘It's like we've swapped the good food for what I'd call tuck shop food,'' Ms Morton said. It was a particular problem at Wakari, where staff did not have ready access to other cafes.

She said cafe staff were not at fault, as it was up to Compass to provide food staff wanted to buy.

Ms Morton said she understood revenue fell after Compass took over the cafes, but she had not been provided with financial information she had requested on that point.

In a statement to the ODT, Compass said there had been no ‘‘significant change'' in revenue since it took over the cafes.

It said it could not release revenue figures because of commercial sensitivity.

‘‘Compass Group NZ has recently concluded a change consultation process for Dunedin and Wakari Hospital's [staff cafes], details of which are confidential to those individuals involved.

‘‘I can confirm customer purchasing patterns have been consistent since October.

‘‘As is normal practice for any food retailer, the food and service at the cafeterias are being frequently reviewed and while some incremental changes and improvements have been made, based on customer feedback, there has been no substantial change to the offering,'' the company statement said.

SDHB chief executive Carole Heatly told the ODT the food in the staff cafes was ‘‘acceptable''.

‘‘I don't expect it to be a five-star restaurant; that's not what I'm paying for.

‘‘It's hot and it's available and it's nutritious and tasty.''

‘‘I eat in the cafeteria regularly and I would say that the standard of food in the cafeteria is acceptable.''

When asked if the board received a share of any profit, Ms Heatly said she did not know the detail of the arrangement between the board and Compass over the staff cafes.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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