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Year 10 Business Studies students at The Cottesloe School in Wing, Leighton Buzzard have had a taste of doing business ‘Dragons’ Den’ style with the new branding from the winning pitch being featured in a designated catering cabin at the school.

AiP challenged the 80 students, as part of their GCSE Business Studies course to come up with an inspirational new branding concept for a food cabin; an eating point in the school grounds.

Students took part in a lesson which explained the concept of marketing and branding and how AiP brands its Primary, secondary and Sixth form school contracts. The lesson covered how consumers understand logos, slogans and colours, as well as the importance of market research.

The students were given a ‘blank canvas’ brief and budget to rebrand the cabin and then presented to a panel made up of 4, Mrs Hulland – Business Manager Cottesloe, Cherie-Anne Hart – Business Director AiP, Marje Randall – Operations Manager AiP and Elaine Armstrong – Key Client Manager AiP in a Dragons’ Den four weeks later.

The winning team came up with a logo that was simple but fresh and had an impact. The winning design has been developed into livery to be used across the cabin.


The new look cabin at Cottesloe School

Elaine Armstrong said:

“All entries in the challenge were of a really high standard and the decision was very difficult. The winning group went one step further with their research and presentation, carrying out a survey with retailers in Milton Keynes and then implementing effective marketing by uploading a presentation onto the school’s TV to promote the new cabin offer. AiP often gets involved in ‘added value’ events in our school contracts and this was great fun to do. The students showed great skill, confidence and thought – really impressive.”

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The Alliance in Partnership group of companies which includes the Contract Dining Company and Class Catering Services, has been acquired by Sodexo, the world leader in quality of life services.

Following the acquisition, it is still ‘business as usual’ for AiP’s 418 school customers and 1,500 staff. AiP will continue to operate independently with managing director Paul Rogers continuing to lead the business from our Birmingham head office.

Paul will join a newly formed operational board which, with Sodexo’s managing director for government schools, Matt Garner, will oversee the development of Sodexo and AiP’s business in this sector. The new board will include executives from both Sodexo and AiP and will report into Sodexo’s CEO for schools and universities, Andrew Wilkinson.

Paul Rogers said: We are thrilled to be joining Sodexo. We share a similar ethos and we have a common heritage which is to serve healthy, nutritious food in a fun and welcoming environment. By joining forces with Sodexo, we believe that we can take our business to the next level and give the company and our people significant opportunities to grow.

Andrew Wilkinson, CEO schools and universities, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are delighted to welcome the talented and dynamic AiP team to Sodexo. The AiP impressive client base will strongly complement our existing schools’ business. The education sector presents a huge growth area for us and we have been looking to expand our presence in it for some time. Whilst we have been growing our own business organically, acquiring a company already well-established in the sector enables us to develop our scale, infrastructure and visibility.”








The Benefits of Online Payment Systems
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From keeping the lunch line moving, to preventing food wastage and making parents’ lives easier, technology in school catering is of tremendous value says Paul Rogers, AiP’s Managing Director.

Most school catering departments are now moving to online payments systems as they offer a number of benefits. Parents can control daily spend as well as keep an eye on what their children have eaten. The stigma of free school meals is also much reduced.

Online ordering speeds up the whole process for caterers, from reducing queuing times to cutting down on admin. In primary schools, if parents can pre-order meals there’s no need to count out the dinner money so there’s less fuss at the till.  Plus, faster service is better for schools with lots of students or those with a short lunch break and several sittings.

Caterers are also able to manage wastage far better as they know exactly what has been ordered in advance.

It makes it easier for caterers to manage allergens when schools opt for online payments as they are able to identify in advance those students with dietary requirements.

Authentic and Inventive Indian Food in School Meals
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There is an art to introducing universally popular Indian flavours to school meals and plenty of scope to be authentic and inventive says Stuart Brown, AiP’s Group Innovation & Product Development Manager.

Veg Curry

Indian cuisine has become a mainstay of the British palate and dining experience so features in all our menus across all age groups.

We devise recipes to cater for all tastes on the spicy spectrum and allow our managers and cooks to use their experience to adjust the recipe to suit the tastes of their own students.  This way we also keep to nutritional values and comply with the School Food Plan.

The wonderful thing about Indian and Indian Sub-Continent food is that there are a lot of vegetarian options. Our menus may include sweet potato and chickpea korma within primary schools, a spiced dhal or pea and potato samosa with secondary schools.

As a Birmingham-based company we are aware of the challenges feeding ethnic food to an ethnic community.  By researching, trying and testing our recipes, we like to think that we do justice to Birmingham’s Balti heritage.

One thing we are conscious of is making sure that the food is as healthy as possible.  We don’t use ghee in recipes, thus keeping the fat content to a minimum.  We also use low fat yoghurt where we can.

As with all food, we follow new ideas and like to set trends.  Street food has been at the forefront of popular eating culture and we offer Indian inspired Grab and Go and hot deli items such as Chicken Tikka salad sandwich or a Tandoori chicken flatbread with minted yoghurt.

We Will Remember Them
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Remembrance Day 1



Poppy cakes

Poppies 2



These are just some of the beautiful displays put together in schools by our team members to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War and to remember all who have lost their lives in times of conflict since.

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Aip has started the new school term with the mobilisation of more than 30 new school contracts, worth £3.6million, to include schools in London, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and for the first time for the company, Cambridgeshire.

A ‘cluster’ of six schools – one secondary and five primary – started on site in London, continuing AiP’s expansion here and in the South East. The primary schools all have bespoke menus to suit their individual requirements and AiP’s Food Smart branding has been rolled out in all five. Taster evenings have been run in some of the schools to introduce parents and carers to the new menus being enjoyed by the children.

The secondary school in the London cluster, Mayfield School, Ilford has seen a complete rebrand in the dining room to AiP’s secondary Feed Me brand and a focus on returning to fresh food service by replacing a reliance on convenience food with hot, freshly prepared dishes. A snack wagon owned by the school has been refurbished too and will be used by students at sporting events at the end of the day to discourage them from visiting local fast food outlets.

AiP’s first venture into Cambridge is for The Trumpington Federation with two schools – Fawcett Primary and Trumpington Meadows, with a combined population of 680 pupils. As well as new branding, AiP has introduced a flexible catering service including a daily pick and mix sandwich option and help yourself salad bar to give both staff and students flexibility.


food, AIP, Food Smart, Primary School, School, Bristol, catering, kitchen, cooking, dinners, lunch, fresh, children.
AiP’s Food Smart branding for primary schools
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We were delighted to sponsor and take part in a series of cookery demos and interactive workshops which took place at Longlands Primary School, in Fairfields, Market Drayton last week during the Ginger and Spice Festival 2018 in the town.


AiP’s development chefs Jean Marc Bernard and Stuart Brown, assisted by directors Sally Tyson and Jenny Roberts  joined celebrated Shropshire chefs including Christopher Burt and James Sherwin to create a range of delicious salads made with seasonal vegetables with children from the school. Olivier Blanc, creator of the award-winning educational food and nature app for children, ‘Henri Le Worm’ also promoted the importance of healthy, local and seasonal food choices to the children during the workshops.

Longlands Primary School children also enjoyed pedaling away on the Smoothie Bike provided by AiP for the day to make a range of delicious and healthy fruit smoothies.

Family members and friends then joined the children and school staff at a community meal the same afternoon with a barbeque and a chance to sample the salads which the children helped to prepare earlier in the day.

‘It was our pleasure to support the Ginger and Spice Festival in actively promoting seasonality and nutrition to the Fairfields’ community. The children loved working with the brigade of chefs to create some really delicious food which was enjoyed by the wider community to round off the day”, explains AiP Director Sally Tyson.




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Eight team members from AIP took part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey cycle ride last weekend, rising more than £5,000 for mental health charity MIND.

Twenty-two thousand riders braved wet and windy conditions on Sunday to complete the sixth annual 100-mile challenge.

The AiP team, who have been in training for many weeks, comprised of Paul Rogers, AiP Managing Director, Cherie-Anne Hart, Business Director, Amy Teichman, Quality and Nutrition Manager and her husband, Adam Starbuck, AiP Financial Analysis and two of the company’s Development Chefs Jean Marc Bernard and Stuart Brown.  Nia Roberts, daughter of Jenny Roberts AiP Business Director completed the team.

“After weeks of glorious sunshine to be riding 100 miles in the wind and rain was a real challenge for all of us but we did it!” Paul Rogers explains.

“We are all delighted to have achieved our personal goals and raised so much money for MIND, the charity that supports people with mental health problems – an illness that can touch any of us at any time.”


AiP London Cycle Race

British Food Fortnight
AiP Sponsors British Food Fortnight events at Ginger & Spice Festival
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British Food FortnightAiP will be sponsoring a series of cookery demos and interactive workshops taking place in September at Longlands Primary School, Fairfields, Market Drayton during British Food Fortnight.

The events, part of the Ginger and Spice Festival 2018 in the town, feature Olivier Blanc, creator of the award winning educational food and nature app for children, ‘Henri Le Worm’. Olivier will be joining local chefs, community project leaders and school staff for an inspired celebration of local, seasonal and home grown food during the fortnight, taking place during Market Drayton’s Ginger and Spice Festival 2018.

All demonstrations and workshops taking place will promote the importance of healthy, local and seasonal food choices as well as highlighting the importance that nature plays in the food cycle and food production process.

Olivier will be demonstrating with recipes inspired by his chef father, Raymond Blanc, OBE, using the fun and creative characters featured in the app Henri Le Worm. He will be incorporating fresh ingredients grown in the school’s community garden as well as other seasonal produce kindly donated by sponsor and Longlands’ Primary School caterer, Alliance in Partnership. AiP will also be serving seasonal British produce to the school children for the duration of British Food Fortnight.

AiP will also be providing a smoothie bike for the school children to enjoy and learn from on the day.

The Ginger and Spice Festival will be taking place during British Food Fortnight from 26th to 29th September 2018, and will include an eclectic mix of festival fringe events celebrating the culinary heritage on the town of Market Drayton.

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AiP is celebrating 20 years in business this month!

Founded in June 1998, AiP is now headed by three directors, Paul Rogers, Sally Tyson and Angela Austin who undertook a management buyout from the original founders on their retirement in 2014.

Today we serve more than 75,000 meals a day at 377 schools and colleges in the Midlands, London and the South East. AiP acquired Class Catering based in the Worcester and Warwickshire area in 2014 and then Kent-based The Contract Dining Company in 2017 and now employs more than 1600 staff and has a turnover of c £32 million.

AiP Celebrates 20 years

Celebrating AiP’s 20th birthday, Paul Rogers Managing Director, pictured above with fellow directors Sally Tyson (left) and Angela Austin (right) said:

“AiP has grown considerably in the last few years through organic growth and acquisition but we have also stayed true to our ethos of supplying high quality, locally sourced and seasonal meals at quality prices.

“We have introduced distinct branding in both primary and secondary schools and we also push the boundaries with innovative food concepts such as street food to stay ahead of market trends. This means students enjoy their school meals and head teachers are assured of an inspirational and properly managed catering service. Our customer-based approach where we always strive to find a solution has been integral to our success.

“However, our 20-year anniversary wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of everyone in the AiP team – development chefs, managers, and of course the front-line staff who welcome thousands of hungry school children into their dining rooms every day with a home cooked meal and a smile.”