Lindley Venue Catering – the specialist sports stadia catering division of the Lindley Group – and Gillingham FC have entered into a seven year, £21.3 million joint venture to expand both match day and non-match day hospitality catering sales at the club’s Priestfield Stadium.
The partnership will see Lindley Venue Catering work in tandem with the npower League 2 Club to maximise potential sales revenue from the outstanding facilities at the only football league ground located in Kent.
From the start of the 2011-12 season, Lindley Venue Catering will take on responsibility for all of the catering services at the 11,440 capacity Priestfield Stadium which has undergone extensive re- development since the arrival of Chairman, Paul Scally in 1995.
Lindley will also provide sales and marketing support for the recently expanded in-house sales team at Gillingham FC, with the launch of a new dedicated Priestfield Conference and Banqueting website spearheading the marketing campaign to publicise the extent and flexibility of the conference and banqueting facilities at the venue.
These include the Great Hall - the largest purpose-built facility of its kind in Kent - which can accommodate 550 for a banquet or 700 seats theatre-style. The floor above includes the impressive Boardroom and six other hospitality suites, which each cater for between 30 and 100 covers.
The Medway Stand – one of three new stands installed as part of the re-development programme – incorporates 20 x 10 cover hospitality boxes.
Lindley Venue Catering is also planning to introduce a number of new concepts and initiatives aimed at enhancing the match day dining experience for Gillingham and visiting clubs’ fans.
Gillingham FC selected Lindley as their catering partner following a tender process which included incumbent caterer Compass.
Gillingham FC Chairman, Paul Scally, says: “When the club began looking for a new hospitality partner, it quickly became apparent that the Lindley Group was the most logical choice.
"We have contacts throughout the footballing world, and those using Lindley's services all spoke highly of them. We were well aware of their reputation for operating retail outlets at various sporting venues, and although that was important to us, we also wanted an operator who would help us capitalise on our superb conference and banqueting facilities.
"Among the ideas we are discussing is the possibility of hosting outdoor music concerts in the stadium, and Lindley's involvement with this kind of event will be invaluable to us. It also helped that I already knew Lindley's CEO, Adam Elliott, who impressed me with his ideas, enthusiasm and commitment, and I am confident that his team and ours will work successfully together."
Adam Elliott, CEO of The Lindley Group, added: “Gillingham FC has invested heavily in the infrastructure and facilities at Priestfield, and the club has been single-minded in its ambition and commitment to equip the Stadium to the very highest standards expected of a top-flight football venue.
“The re-development programme has completely transformed the Stadium and we’re absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to join forces with them at such as pivotal point in the club’s journey to the top. Our aim is to share our knowledge and expertise in stadia catering, sales and marketing, and large-scale event management to ensure the financial return generated by Gillingham’s catering, conference and banqueting operation reaps the maximum rewards from their substantial capital investment.”