Online catering buying platform to launch in UK

A new £20m e-procurement platform designed specifically for catering buyers is set to launch in the UK market, promising to bring major savings to independent eateries nationwide.

The platform, founded by a company called A Local Menu and powered by software from US firm Coupa, aims to reduce cost for suppliers and food outlets and simplify the sourcing and purchase process for caterers.

A wide selection of food and non-food products will be available via the platform, including catering equipment and catering equipment services.

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Suppliers already listed on the platform ahead of its March 25 launch are said to include Akro, Network Catering Engineers and a number of regional fitters of kitchen equipment.

The catering, equipment and services areas accounts for approximately 50,000 items on the database, according to the company.

A Local Menu claims it is often tough for independent restaurants, coffee shops and tea rooms to devote the time to product sourcing, negotiating prices and placing orders with multiple suppliers.

It aims to create a more transparent playing field and make it easier for smaller catering business to procure the products they want without being penalised for low volume orders.

The e-procurement system adopted by A Local Menu is already used by companies such as Subway and McDonalds worldwide. Following a further £21m investment it has now been constructed specifically for suppliers and independent eateries in the UK catering industry.

“With the Coupa e-procurement solution, eateries can secure great deals from an ever expanding number of suppliers, enabling them to shift their focus from procurement to the larger task at hand – getting more diners through the door and delivering a great experience,” said Sue Baron, founder of A Local Menu founder.

When a restaurant registers with A Local Menu, they will be able to connect to the ‘Marketplace’, a fully searchable online site giving them access to some of the best prices from hundreds of suppliers of staple products and services through to speciality local produce.

Suppliers include Brakes and Bookers in addition to a broad range of regional and local providers.

A Local Menu claims its research suggests that the site has the potential to save catering establishments between 16% and 27% on their current prices from this single price file, in addition to the time and resource required to manage the order process.

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