ROYAL MAIL REVIEW OF FUTURE CATERING PROVISION – QUADRANT JOINT VENTURE
The department was recently contacted by Martin Gafsen, Royal Mail Group, Property and Facilities Director, in relation to instigating discussions on the future of catering provision and a meeting subsequently took place on the 31st July 2019.
Historically in 1998 Quadrant became the subject of a Joint Venture between Royal Mail and Compass Group and have provided catering facilities since that time. The current Quadrant contract which commenced in 2015, was originally for three years, with a review point after two. In 2017 a two-year extension was agreed with the next review point due in September 2020.
Branches will be aware that over recent years the department has fought to champion the use of the Quadrant facilities by our Royal Mail members. However, despite our best efforts and support from Branches the trends with regard to footfall and sales continue to be negative.
As such the business has been reviewing the situation and has been in discussions with Quadrant on both the food offer and facilities. However, the Royal Mail Board has decided that the commercial contract should not be extended without the market being tested in respect of alternative options that may be available. Effectively this means that a commercial tender process for future Catering provision in Royal Mail is to be commenced.
During the meeting the business were at pains to assure the department that it is not their intention to cease subsidised catering and in fact may invite tenders for solutions beyond the scope of the current arrangements with Quadrant. They have also confirmed that Quadrant will be invited to submit a tender which will be considered with equal status.
The business has informed us that the tender process will commence in August – September 2019 and will follow three key stages:
1. August 19 – September 19 – Pre-Qualification Stage
2. September 19 – January 20 – Request for, and evaluation of, outline solutions stage
3. February 20 – April 20 – Request for Detailed Solutions
Quadrant has been informed of the intention to move to tender and we understand that they will be communicating with their employees, our members, today to inform them of Royal Mail’s decision.
Of course in any tender process there remains the possibility of a move to an alternate service provider and as such we have questioned what would happen to the Joint Venture in such circumstances. In response the business has indicated that they would look to dissolve the Joint Venture arrangement.
The department with the assistance of the CWU Research Department are currently undertaking analysis of the Joint Venture documentation to assess any direct implications for our members should such a scenario develop.
Clearly we appreciate and understand that regardless of any assurances, the fact that the business intends to move to commercial tender is extremely unwelcome and will be of great concern to our Quadrant members.
Discussions are therefore under way between the department and Royal Mail to develop a structure for engagement throughout the tender process to ensure that the union is fully engaged and can influence any final decision.
Our priority will be to ensure that our Quadrant member’s long term job and standard of living security is protected and that they are fully supported throughout what will undoubtedly be a very unsettling time.