Sodexo live! seeks to expand site presence as Cheektowaga office becomes largest in US
At the height of the pandemic, when the sports hospitality market came to a standstill, Sodexo doubled down on its efforts in the event catering sector.
The company has rebranded its sports and leisure business as Sodexo Live! in September 2021, approximately four years after the purchase of major hospitality provider Centerplate. Even though the company’s hotel business fell by 90% about a year into the pandemic, Sodexo Live! was still hiring.
It was enough to convince Matthew Wagner to leave his position at competitor Delaware North during the pandemic in 2020 to lead Sodexo Live! as Senior Vice President of Business Development for North America.
“What intrigued me was that Sodexo, at the height of the pandemic – when most people were draining their resources and laying off because of the weather – was looking to hire and had a strategic growth mindset” , said Wagner, an East Aurora. resident who started his career in financial services.
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It is in the Buffalo Niagara region that Sodexo has grown considerably. Buried in the back of an office park on Airborne Parkway in Cheektawaga is where the company has its largest North American presence.
Sodexo, a Fortune 100 company headquartered in Paris, had sales of more than $22 billion in the last fiscal year. It employs nearly 1,000 people in the Buffalo Niagara area, including 450 full-time employees in technology, accounting, finance and administration at the nearby Buffalo Niagara International Airport office. The company’s North America headquarters is outside of the Washington, DC area, but it’s only a fraction of the size of the Cheektowaga office.
Founded in 1966, Sodexo is a family business with founder Pierre Bellon’s daughter, Sophie, who now leads the company as global CEO and his other daughter Nathalie who takes the reins as global CEO of Sodexo Live!
About 60-65%, or $12 billion, of the company’s revenue in the last fiscal year came from North America, which is its biggest growth market. Sodexo live! is worth more than a billion dollars and is now in 250 theaters in North America.
Other parts of Sodexo’s hospitality business in universities, K-12 schools and in corporate services remained strong during the pandemic, helping to soften the blow to Sodexo Live!, Wagner said.
“Any growth aspirations we had have been abandoned because of the global situation,” he said. “But without a doubt, our business has come back strong. People want to come out and be part of the live entertainment and interact again.
Sodexo live! also serves convention and conference centers, airport lounges, cultural destinations and global events, such as the Super Bowl, WrestleMania, Formula 1 races and the Rugby World Cup. The company will also provide much of the athlete nutrition for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
The company has a long-standing relationship with M&T Bank, which dates back more than five decades. It is also the foodservice provider for the University at Buffalo, Seneca One Tower, Rich Products and Holiday Valley. Wagner sees growth opportunities with sports teams in Buffalo, Canalside, Outer Harbor and Niagara Falls.
Concessions to be won at the Bills’ new stadium
Delaware North has partnered with the Bills on their concession services since 1992, but the team has made it clear there will be a competitive process to select the food and beverage supplier for the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in the 2026 season.
As Delaware North plans to submit a proposal and “highly hopes to continue” its partnership with the Bills, according to a company spokesperson, the team’s desire for a taste of the scenery should spur sports hospitality providers and events to lick their chops.
Sodexo live! is one of the companies that has already said it plans to bid for concessions at the new Bills Stadium, which will be built opposite the current one on Abbott Road in Orchard Park.
Delaware North has also been a franchise partner of the Sabers since the team’s first year as a franchise in 1970.
Sodexo live! has managed franchises for 15 Super Bowls and is in a number of stadiums across North America, including Tim Hortons Field in southern Ontario, where the Legacy Classic between the Sabers and Maple Leafs took place. been played this year.
It’s also likely that Legends, which is already working with the Bills on marketing and data analytics for the new stadium, and other big hospitality players like Aramark, will bid for the new stadium concessions.
Want to know more? Three stories to catch up with you:
• The new Seneca One dining room offers fast and varied service to the public
• Pandemic-hit Delaware North cuts 14% of full-time jobs in Buffalo area
• Bills announces Legends will handle planning and sales at new stadium
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Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Samantha Christmann, Janet Gramza and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.
The Buffalo Next team gives you insight into the economic revitalization of the region. Email advice to restaurant and retail industries and sports companies at email@example.com or contact reporter Michael Petro at firstname.lastname@example.org.