Impact Food Group (Bridges Fund Management)

by Emma Thorne, partner

We acquired Cucina Restaurants and Innovate Services in 2018, and merged the two to form the Impact Food Group (IFG). The core of the business is to provide high-quality catering to schools in the UK, which helps to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity by displacing fast food and unhealthy packed lunches. Its mission statement is to feed more pupils better food.

As part of the merger, we maintained both of the individual company’s identities and customer propositions, and began working on impact measurements that could be communicated through the umbrella brand – such as nutritional information and take-up metrics.

Winning contracts

The business’s route to market is primarily through the relationships that it has with consultants, who provide procurement advice to schools. The team significantly increased its number of consultant relationships (from a small handful to well over 20) under Bridges’ ownership, unlocking access to more schools, more contracts and therefore more pupils. We also gained a significant foothold within multi-academy trusts, which are key relationships given their scale and the market trend towards further consolidation.

The average contract value grew by increasing uptake. Historically, average spend per pupil has increased by about 30% when IFG takes on a school catering contract.

IFG also made great progress by expanding geographically, from its historical stronghold in the South of England to a wider national presence, leveraging its existing support functions and infrastructure.

Environmental impact

We looked holistically at the business’s environmental impact, as one of the team’s three impact pillars of people, product and planet. Key areas of focus were food waste reduction and recycling. IFG partnered with Olio, the food waste enterprise, to encourage food redistribution, which was also a great way to engage with pupils and families within its communities. We also worked to reuse cooking oil in particular, recycling 100% to biodiesel.

Menu development was led and managed in-house, with a focus on continuous marginal improvements to the nutritional formulation of the menus.