WASPS have today announced as new “long term partnership” giving US-based Delaware North “exclusive rights to catering and hospitality services at the Ricoh Arena”.
The rugby club’s group of companies, which has owned the Ricoh Arena since 2014, will hope the new deal can help drive it into profit.
It has been running annual operating losses, with debts of around £35million.
A recent audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded there was “material uncertainty” as to whether the company could “continue as a going concern”, when it also reported the accounts had been falsified.
It is not clear what the new deal means for longstanding catering firm Compass and the Ricoh Arena’s joint venture with it.
The 32,000-seater venue – also home to Coventry City Football Club who are now tenants – offers conference catering and other hospitality services throughout the week. It has a 121-bedroom Doubletree by Hilton hotel, a casino, two restaurants and a coffee shop.
The press release reads: “Wasps Group has agreed a long-term strategic partnership with global hospitality giants Delaware North, giving the American-based firm exclusive rights to catering and hospitality services at the Ricoh Arena – the sports, entertainment and business venue in Coventry.”
It continues: “Delaware North, a family-owned firm founded in Buffalo, New York state in 1915, delivers a string of high-profile hospitality and catering contracts across the world including at the National stadium, Wembley, The London Stadium, the Emirates and Heathrow Airport in the UK.
“Internationally it operates across a wide variety of sports including NFL, baseball, tennis and icehockey and in countries including the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. It also has interests in national parks, luxury resorts, retail and travel.”
Nick Eastwood, Chief Executive of Wasps Group, said in the presss release it was “great news for the Ricoh Arena and for the region that a global business was investing in the Midlands.”
He said: “This is a landmark deal for Wasps Group and the start of a long relationship with Delaware North who have shown enormous confidence in both the Ricoh Arena and the quality of the region’s staff.
“The company has an outstanding reputation for quality and service and works with some of the biggest venues in sport, leisure and business.
“We are very excited about the partnership and continuing to provide all our visitors with the highest level of hospitality and customer experience.”
The press release adds Delaware North – named after the junction on Delaware Avenue and North Street in Buffalo where its headquarters still stand to this day– started life as a popcorn and peanut vending business. It now employs more than 55,000 staff and has a turnover of $3.1 billion, it states.
Doug Tetley UK Managing Director at Delaware North, said in the release announcing the deal: “The Ricoh Arena is an incredible venue and one of the most diverse in the UK in terms of its mix. Few other venues host professional sports, major concerts, trade exhibitions and conventions as well as housing a successful hotel and casino.
“We have global expertise in all of these areas and look forward to building on the work done by the staff already working at the Ricoh Arena.”