Duo Catering invests 1.5 million by pulling the handbrake

Offering responsible food to communities has limitations and above all, not striving for growth at all costs: the motto of Duo Catering.

In the community cateringe, a little Waal is busy conquering a nice place on the Belgian market by betting on the fresh productsthe local suppliers and a triple offer: kitchen on location of the customer, delivery from his central kitchen or just” menu software management… The company is called Duo Cateringit was founded by Ludovic Maisin and Jean-Claude Bodart in 2008. With its 47% subsidiary best deal, it now employs 150 people (+ 40 to 50 temporary workers) for a combined turnover of 35 million euros. In volume this represents what 15,000 meals a day average for Duo and the same for Best Deal. Ludovic Maison, who took over his partner’s shares in 2017, plans toinvest 1.5 million euros this year again, to quintuple the capacity of the central kitchen, near Namur.

The adventure of Duo Catering started with a restructuring. that of the group Compass, who took a closer look at his organization in the Benelux in 2008. Ludovic Maisin was the general manager for Belgium. on a post from Finance Director in the new group he preferred to step down to try the big leap: start your own business collective catering, applying some ideas from his previous job. To get as many opportunities as possible at his side, he teamed up with Jean-Claude Bodart, a man “born in a kitchen” who had already managed to sell and then sell a catering business.

Sustainable did you say?

This positioning has allowed them to find a place for themselves in a market that is already very dense and win the first label in the process. Sustainable canteenswhen the Walloon Region launched its plan Green Deal to encourage a short circuit. “We got it for the site where we cook for the Clinique Notre Dame des Anges, in Liège (200 covers)”, says Ludovic Maisin, who remembers that it was necessary to apply there by answering with the customer to the various criteria used. This year the Region launched the version 2.0 of the label Green Deal Sustainable Canteens, which this time rewards a set of no fewer than three locations: Duo Catering has already put itself in battle order in the hope of landing them too.

“In the specifications of prospects, the criterion of sustainable nutrition is starting to gain the upper hand.”

Ludovic Maisin

co-founder and CEO, Duo Catering

The two entrepreneurs decided to stand out through a responsible catering approach: Working with fresh and seasonal products, which includes using short circuits, preferring organic products where possible but not exclusively, digging up traditional recipes and resolutely committed to quality.

“In the specifications of the prospectsthe criterion ofsustainable food is starting to dominate, says the CEO. This gives us a competitive advantage.”

The SME based in Louvain-la-Neuve has grown in two directions: meals prepared at the customer by an appointed leader, which applies Duo’s instructions to products and suppliers, or meals prepared in the company’s central kitchen and then delivered chilled to the customer. In 2020 she added a third string on his bow after acquiring a 47% stake in the firm Best Deal, created by Steve Dhoore: the offer of a customer software support who want to prepare their own meals (planning menus, grouped and automated purchases, respecting budgets, etc.). The association with Best Deal has also led to the sharing ofthe same purchasing office.

Duo Catering employs 130 people, including 50 chefs, and 40 to 50 tempswhile Best Deal’s workforce 19 people. The first suffered a negative impact of covid on its results for 2021 (closed on September 30), with sales that fell 15% to 18.3 million, but have since grown again and expects 22 million this year, from 21.5 million before the crisis. The second forecasts 13 million in 2022, or a combined turnover of about 35 million for both.

35 million euros

turnover 2022

Together, Duo Catering and Best Deal expect a turnover of 35 million this year.

Growth, but not at all costs

So far Duo only works than in Wallonia and Brusselss, while Best Deal has already started working in Flanders† That should soon change: the first is starting to respond to tenders in the north of the country.

And since many customers opt for the meal delivery formula, Duo plans to the capacity of the central kitchen from 3,000 to 15,000 meals per day† Therefore, it plans to invest 1.5 million this year.

“We don’t disclose our revenue per site internally.”

Ludovic Maisin

co-founder and CEO, Duo Catering

The goal is to keep growing, but not at all costs, the CEO insists. “If you give a chef on a site a financial target, it automatically comes at the expense of the quality of his kitchen, Ludovic Maisin emphasizes internally on our profit per site. And the same reasoning applies to our managers Profitability must come from qualitative management.” Also, ask to continue to earn his reputation.

The summary

  • In collective catering, a young Walloon company is making a name for itself on the Belgian market by focusing on fresh products, local suppliers and a triple offer: cooking at the customer, delivery from the central kitchen or “simple” menu software management.
  • Duo Catering was founded in 2008 by Ludovic Maisin and Jean-Claude Bodart; with subsidiary Best Deal, it now employs 150 people (+ 40 to 50 temporary workers) for a combined turnover of 35 million euros.
  • This represents an average of about 15,000 meals per day for Duo and the same for Best Deal.
  • The managers plan to invest another 1.5 million euros this year to increase the capacity of their central kitchen fivefold.

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