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Meadow Croft Garden Centre new restaurant

Meadow Croft Garden Centre in Battlesbridge, Wickford, has become a visitor attraction for people living across Essex.

Dedicated to being the best garden centre possible, Meadow Croft has also developed extensive indoor and outdoor living ranges and created a popular mini golf and playground. In addition, its Meadow Croft Kitchen restaurant has become an integral part of the garden centre, having grown a well-established reputation for serving delicious homemade dishes, bakes, and cakes, together with daily specials and afternoon tea.

After several years of careful planning, the Meadow Croft Kitchen has recently relaunched to provide increased seating capacity to cater to the growing demand, as well as offering a modernised environment that takes inspiration from the garden and outdoors.

A year after the relaunch, the Meadow Croft Kitchen has seen footfall increase by 198% as more customers visit the centre to enjoy everything it has to offer. On average, the catering team services up to 600 covers every day, which increases to 750 during the busy festive period. Having the support of Pelican Procurement Services during this period of growth has been vital.

Kelly Hare, Catering Manager at Meadow Croft Garden Centre

Kelly Hare, Catering Manager, shares her experience of what it takes to operate a successful restaurant within the centre and how, with support from a new procurement partner the business has witnessed a positive impact on its day-to-day operations.

Procurement partnership

I’ve been with Meadow Croft Garden Centre for around 18 months. In that time, we have not only launched a brand-new restaurant, which has significantly increased footfall, but we have also introduced a new procurement partner, Pelican Procurement Services. We were recommended to Pelican by another garden centre, and they were very enthusiastic about the benefits they have received, so we were keen to go down that road ourselves to seek support. While our original objectives were focused on cost savings, we were impressed by the support offered in the back-office to help us take better control of our purchasing, budgets, suppliers, and menus.

At the outset, Pelican worked us to review existing supplier contracts and pricing.

Having received the report analysis, the choice was ours as to which suppliers we went with. With regards to the wholesaler, we didn’t go with the cheapest, but in fact, selected the supplier that offered a greater breadth of products. This would mean we could access more of what we need from one supplier, to simplify and consolidate our overall purchasing. We have also chosen to work with seven new suppliers across other food and non-food categories.

Streamlining operations

A big change for the business has been the introduction of a centralised online eProcurement platform — Pelican Pi — which includes a range of modules designed to support the overall catering function, from stock and order management to menu recipe development, costings, budgeting, and automatically presenting allergen data for all products ordered.

For me, working with Pelican’s Pi system helps in so many ways. For example, I can now easily work out gross profit on every meal we serve. There’s an online calculator, which is so easy to use. You simply input the recipe, and it pulls through live pricing so you can work out the exact cost for each and every dish we create.

Everything is centralised on the Pi system, and this has removed a massive amount of administration not only for me, but it has taken a great deal of pressure off other parts of the business.

Allergen and nutritional info for every meal

In addition, Pi includes a comprehensive tool that automatically updates and maintains the allergen and nutrition information of every item purchased.

The allergens data is brilliant! The information is automatically updated in our files and allows us to present everything so professionally for our customers. It’s a huge time-saver for us as we don’t have to manually search for this information and the system provides a number of ways to help us share the information with our clients easily!

Removing manual invoicing

Before Pelican, managing multiple suppliers was cumbersome and time-consuming. We previously had 12 different suppliers, all sending separate invoices that we were having to process as separate payments.

However, Pelican streamlined the invoice management process, providing a single point of contact and alleviating administrative burdens. Now it’s all taken care of: Pelican coordinates with our suppliers, negotiates and monitors prices, handles delivery queries and more. For example, the accounts team no longer need to check multiple invoices, line items and prices – instead, we receive just one direct debit from Pelican for all of our orders.

Exceptional support

Darren and Yolanda at Pelican are really supportive. They’ve helped me not only with managing the procurement for our busy restaurant but also with secondary catering and looking at additional suppliers.

This partnership has been extremely beneficial for the whole organisation; we’ve seen operational time savings, and I have a clear view of what we are spending, how we can cost our meals, and allergen data at my fingertips. I have complete transparency of the total catering function while reducing our administration. I can’t fault them—and I, too, am now singing their praises to others!

Working with Pelican is like having an extended team at my disposal, which is invaluable. They are on hand to answer any questions or talk to suppliers on my behalf, and I really value their support.

We are here to help.

To learn more about how Pelican Procurement Services can help your hospitality business increase footfall and streamline operations, email our expert team at

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