Elior welcomes director of new innovation team

Leading contract caterer, Elior, has appointed Claire Small to take on its newly created Director of Innovation role.

Industry acclaimed with commercial acumen and a strong digital focus, Small leads Elior’s new eight-strong innovation team.

Transforming insight into opportunities, they are responsible for delivering digital, concept development, photography and menu management across its UK business.

Prior to Elior, Small held senior roles with hospitality brands including SSP UK, The Restaurant Group plc and ETM Group, helping translate consumer trends into creative commercial solutions.

Some of Small’s career highlights include bringing sporting elements like ticketing and vertical dining to key venues, boosting profile and customer spend through immersive experiential dining.

Small’s achievements and contributions in the hospitality industry have also been recognised, notably with her listing in the ‘Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure’ Index (2021), and being tipped as a Future Leader on the 30 Under 30 Restaurant & Marketer Innovator list (2018).

At Elior, Small is responsible for digital strategy across the company, including the rollout and optimisation of its proprietary Breaz mobile ordering app, Scan & Go technology and digital kiosk ordering.

Using consumer insights from these, she will be driving concept development in branding and menus – for new and existing food concepts, pop-ups and standalone brands across Elior’s sectors. Her role also involves forging partnerships with brands, chefs and suppliers, ensuring Elior’s offer is the most innovative and food-led in the market.

Since starting, Small and the innovation team have been bringing to market Elior’s new health-focused ‘Grab & Go’ concept, Wildgreen, which is soon to be piloted in B&I locations across the UK. The Wildgreen menu is 50% plant-based, providing nutritionally-balanced boxed meals, which customers can order digitally and collect in minutes.

Catherine Roe, Chief Executive Officer at Elior, said, “Our new innovation team along with Claire’s appointment, represent an exciting new direction for Elior.

'Our Customers’ needs changed significantly as a result of the pandemic and we adapted to these. Given the speed of change, we realised that, as a leading contract caterer, we can spearhead new innovation in the foodservice industry.

'The team are working on several inspiring new projects which will spur the business on for sustained growth over the coming years.”

Small said, “Elior operates across a wide range of sectors and I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities we have to innovate across the business, especially as we emerge from an extremely tough period and adapt to new customer habits and expectations.

'As well as using market insight and information on consumer trends, our Breaz app is a powerful source of data. We’ve also got the perfect opportunity to pilot new menus and services, with a plenty of customers across each sector.

'We’ve got a handful of creative concepts on the go, fusing consumer trends with evolving technologies – from Wildgreen’s healthy ‘Grab & Go’ concept, to digital screens and mobile ordering kiosks.

'The last few years have driven widespread adoption of new technologies. It’s fantastic to be working at the cutting edge; identifying opportunities in the business and then bringing them to life!”