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In the world of theatre, venue, and hospitality/conference operations, Trafalgar Theatres (formerly HQ Theatres) shines as a prominent figure both in the UK and abroad. The company is dedicated to giving its customers an all-round excellent experience: combining great shows with industry-leading hospitality and top-tier service.

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Mark Hollington, the Hospitality Director, and Paul Lawman, the Head of Food & Beverage and, together, they shed light on the remarkable efficiencies and cost savings achieved through a collaborative partnership with Pelican Procurement, leveraging the cutting-edge cloud-based Pelican Pi system.

Streamlining Operations and Simplifying Purchasing

Paul Lawman, Head of Food & Beverage

“I have been using the Pelican Pi system for several years now, and I remember a time before Pelican when we had to call up price files and manually add prices by sites and raise individual purchase orders. This was a very time-consuming job with multiple sites.

Pelican’s Cherry Pi module makes ordering so much easier; it helps our finance team reduce administration, as suppliers are now paid via direct debit payments. There are less complications and time savings as we don’t have to set up individual purchase orders.

The menu & allergen management module, Piranha, has been a godsend for us, particularly when managing allergens. It provides us with a safety net, ensuring we can provide dependable allergen information to our guests, especially in large-scale operations. The matrix feature, which connects suppliers and managers, has significantly reduced the burden on our chefs, allowing them to focus on cooking and what they truly enjoy.

For stock systems, we have started to use Pitstop, which is another module of the Pi system. It’s much more beneficial than anticipated; it helps us obtain our stock value per site and contrasts with our external auditor.

Overall, Pi system is a great asset to have and provides all we need in one centralised system, especially with the inventories and multiple suppliers in one place – and with one account manager for support!

Pelican wears multiple hats and helps us control everything under one umbrella. They bring us contacts, offer development days, and introduce us to potential suppliers and new products that we wouldn’t have the ability to scope ourselves. Plus, we have the added bonus of using the Pi system for non-managed suppliers, which is an advantage too.

Mia, our account manager at Pelican, understands us, our business, our venues, and the people in each venue. I speak to her at least once a day. She is like a member of our team.”

Empowering Efficiency and Building Trust

Mark Hollington, Hospitality Director

“Before Pelican, which was over seven years ago, we operated totally manually. Today, we use Pelican’s Pi system to its fullest extent. We’ve really developed a relationship with the Pelican team, and our account manager Mia. The relationship we have has been invaluable.

There have been conversations in our business about whether we should bring purchasing back in-house, but we found that it wouldn’t be beneficial. We would need menu system to manage allergens and recipes, our purchasing department would need an e-procurement system, and then there’s group supply resources where Pelican scopes, specifying and pricing products, chasing suppliers. For every penny you gained back, you would spend it on people and systems to replace it – and arguably more – so it makes perfect commercial sense to have Pelican expertise and the Pi system in place. The relationship works really well for us.

When I think about the purchase ledger alone, we have gone from around 1,000 manual purchase invoices every month, which would have taken two purchase ledger clerks into the finance team, to just a dozen invoices handled by the Pi system and direct debit. It makes complete sense.

Mia our dedicated account manager at Pelican, deeply understands our processes and procedures, behaving as an extension of our team. The Pi platform’s ability to handle allergen and menu management and insights into spend, volumes, and purchasing patterns has given us better control over our supply chain. It works really well for us.

There’s a cultural match between us and Pelican. It’s much more than a commercial arrangement – it has felt like a genuine partnership. When you look at the return on investment, it’s demonstrably good value for money. The team has never been pushy or sales-oriented, always prioritising our needs and ensuring the Pi system delivers good value for money. The return on investment has been outstanding, and the low risk associated with the system makes it a no-brainer.

We look forward to a continued partnership with Pelican.”

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