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Games sites £1m boost for Cordia

CORDIA Services, Glasgow City Council's biggest arms-length organisation, has highlighted the revenue potential in this summer's Commonwealth Games after the opening of the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome boosted its catering sales by £1 million in its last financial year.

Cordia said the venues, which will host cycling and badminton during the Games, have "provided a canvass" for its Encore Hospitality Services division to drive income this year.

With Cordia in talks with the Games organiser over deals to provide spectator catering, it is unable to comment on its expectations for those venues.

However, finance director Andy Clark did say Cordia expects a boost from other city attractions where it holds the catering contracts.

He said: "We do expect spin-off business around places like the City Chambers, the Lighthouse, Riverside Museum, [and] Kelvingrove [Art Gallery and] Museum.

"We expect to see an increase in business within our own visitor attractions because of the increase in visitors and just the general feelgood that is going to come throughout the city this year."

Encore belongs to the catering division of Cordia Services, and booked sales of £9.3m in the year to March 31, 2013.

It earned revenue of £0.5m in the first six months of operations at the new Emirates Arena, with the catering division also reporting success with the roll-out of new service concepts and facilities in secondary schools.

In April Cordia Kitchen was launched after the council reviewed its meals for homes section, which Cordia had previously run. Cordia Kitchen replaces that offer but has been extended to a broader range of users, with promotional leaflets distributed to places such as doctors' surgeries. So far it represents a small part of the Cordia business.

Mr Clark said: "Anybody can buy it. In the main it was targeted at people who were previously getting a meals service from the council.

"It's a full menu choice, it's a nutritionally-balanced meal, it is the correct quantities. But what also happens is our driver is able to take the meal into the house and do stock control within somebody's freezer.

"It's about helping vulnerable people."

The latest accounts for Cordia Services show its overall catering arm made an underlying profit of £1.9m, ahead of its target of £1.2m, before allocating credit to the council.

In overall terms Cordia Services, which also provides facilities management and care, narrowed by £0.9m to £2.28m, as turnover fell to £138.4m from £142.3m the year before.

Mr Clark said revenue had dropped because Cordia had reduced the charge it makes to the council, which accounts for 80% to 85% of its sales, by 2.1%.

It was able to do this after making efficiencies through its move to electronic purchasing, with turnover also falling owing to an increase in the bulk credit it provides the council to £3.55m.

Mr Clark noted the continuing review of staff needs for its care division had led Cordia to buy out hours from workers' contracts, reflected in a £1.85m adjustment in the accounts.

This came after it identified that the period between 1pm and 3pm is a "low service time" during week days.

Mr Clark said: "We don't need staff who are contracted to work between two and three o'clock.

"So what we have done is buy that hour out rather than making somebody redundant, because all we really need to lose is an hour.

"They get a one-off payment to maybe reduce themselves from a 25-hour contract to a 20-hour contract. That's where these restructuring costs are.

"It's a very financially effective way of restructuring - the payback time averages nine months."

Mr Clark also highlighted that Cordia, which employs around 7100 staff across its operations, is increasingly active in the private sector.

He noted its stairlift arm, EquipU, had seen a 13% sales growth and had been taken up by other local authorities and health boards.

Noting that the division was on track to deliver £3.8m in turnover this year, he said: "It has delivered savings across the board to these authorities, even with us managing it in its entirety.

"It took the work from the occupational therapist away, which released them to do other things."

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