The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh

Software Used:

“FDH is a well-established company and has a positive reputation within the higher education sector. Saffron provides ACE with a one stop catering management software solution which is made up of a number of different modules. It is a simple process to ‘switch on’ new functionality and over the years our use of the system has grown significantly. An added benefit is having access to a training system enabling us to train new staff and test new functionality.”

Our department is Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE), which sits within the Corporate Services support group of The University of Edinburgh (UOE). As the largest catering provider in the University there has been significant growth over the past five years with a further three cafes opened in 2018. The operations of ACE cover four key areas with a geographical spread across the whole University: from campuses at Easter Bush to the Western General Hospital, Little France, Kings Buildings and the city centre:

  • Catered halls for 2,000 students at Pollock Halls, which become Scotland’s largest hotel each summer
  • Retail catering operations which include seven stand-alone outlets with dedicated kitchens and chef managers, 14 Grab and Go outlets with a smaller footprint who are supported from a central kitchen, two street food vans and a range of mobile coffee carts
  • Edinburgh First: the commercial sub-brand of ACE for conferences, events, outside catering, meetings and weddings
  • Three hotels, which are all-year-round properties providing breakfast and a bistro

By way of background, what led us to Saffron was essentially through a partnership arrangement with our previous system supplier. This system was withdrawn because the software developers wanted to partner with Fretwell Downing instead.

Pre-implementation of Saffron, our biggest challenge was our stock database: it was neither clean nor well-structured. This is a crucial tip we would share with any other catering departments: the lesson learned being a new database should have been built from scratch allowing us to cleanse old and inaccurate data, rather than having the old database exported over into any new system. Often a decision has to be made if it is more effective to export or to actually build again from scratch. The system will only be good based on the decisions taken on architecture at design stage and thus will enable more efficient and ongoing future management.

The implementation itself was a simple process. At the beginning an export from our old system was taken and imported to Saffron. In recent years, with the support of FDH, we have cleansed the database and put in place a hierarchy which allows much tighter management of new, live and non-live items and recipes.

Saffron provides ACE with a one stop catering management software solution which is made up of a number of different modules. We don’t use all functionality but we do utilise a number of functions within each module. We have used multiple modules to realise the benefits of Saffron. These include:

  • Stock down dating via an interface with our EPoS provider
  • Stock reporting, including variances
  • Purchase control and invoice management
  • Sales Order Modules to a CPU
  • Recipes and costings
  • Allergen & Nutrition portal
  • BI Reporting Dashboard
  • Supplier control
  • Wastage segregation, reporting and interface with EPoS provider

What made us choose FDH and Saffron was that FDH is a well-established company and has a positive reputation within the higher education sector.  It is a simple process to ‘switch on’ new functionality and over the years our use of the system has grown significantly. An added benefit is having access to a training system enabling us to train new staff and test new functionality.

 – Rae Conn, Head of Catering Operations (Campus, Events & Systems), University of Edinburgh

2020 Fretwell-Downing Hospitality