Interview: Freemans Events Partners

Paul Hill chats to an events wholesaler and Confex member about its unique proposition and future within foodservice

PH: Talk us through the structure of the business, and how its various strands work and intersect.

Tim Hobbs, Director of foodservice at Freemans Events Partners

TH: Freemans Event Partners is a multi-service event partner, enabling the UK and Europe’s most prestigious venues and stadia to deliver outstanding fan and spectator experiences. The business reaches more than 25 million people, across 650 event days each year.

Our clients include Silverstone Circuit, Twickenham Stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Wembley Stadium, the European Tour, the Jockey Club and the Badminton Horse Trials. The business operates at events as diverse as the Formula One and Moto GP British Grand Prix, the Six Nations, the Cheltenham Races, the Ryder Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the Ashes, Major League Baseball, NFL and the FA Cup.

Starting in 1975 as a fish & chips outlet at Silverstone, the company has grown into a leading event partner providing food and beverage solutions, end-to-end payment technology, end-to-end wholesale and logistics, a full procurement chain, as well as facilitating global commercial partnerships, and deploying practical workforce solutions.

Freemans Event Partners also works with leading brand partners, such as Diageo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and American Express, to deliver high-impact consumer brand activations. Our expertise and decades of operation in the events industry enables us to enhance the customer experience and ensure they get the same food and drink experience as on the high street.

What are Freemans Event Partners’ plans for the food-service channel?

Our foodservice channel has continued its growth post-Covid, as demand for events in the UK has increased1,2. We are looking to continue developing and expanding our foodservice channel to onboard and sell to a wider range of concessionaires. We understand that expectations of food and drinks at events are more diverse than ever before. We already provide end-to-end foodservice procurement and logistics at events and venues.

Our goal is to grow into other events and maximise our logistics capabilities, delivering to an independent trader’s outlet on site at an event. We also want to offer concessionaires broader choice at competitive prices.

What products do you trade in?

We cater for the masses, so we specialise in products from global household brands.

We operate at major events in the UK that range from 80,000 fans at Twickenham Stadium to 480,000 spectators at the Formula One Grand Prix. As such, we need to ensure we trade in products that can be prepared on site, with limited cooking facilities in a high-volume environment.

Our categories include frozen foods, chilled and perishable products, snacks, soft drinks, confectionery and alcoholic beverages.

Why did you join Confex and how are you finding being part of a buying group?

We want to ensure we offer a broad range of products to our concessionaires, and where we don’t have relationships directly with brands, Confex has aided the development of our range and extended purchasing.

Who are your customers, where are they based and how many do you serve in total?

We work with independent traders all around the country as well as across Europe. During the Ryder Cup in October 2023, we procured foodservice solutions to a range of UK and local Italian concessionaires.

This year, we will be trading at a major event in Paris and 80% of the food we will provide at the event will come from France.

In the UK, we service concessionaires from the West Country, Northamptonshire, Greater London all the way to Scotland.

We offer our customers next-day delivery to their outlet at an event, which is a huge point of difference.

Read more: Confex brings Rowan International into membership

What gives your business its USP?

Our knowledge of the event, the site, the security procedures, accreditation process and the concessionaire means we can deliver and move goods around a venue or a green field site, and ensure a product is delivered to the outlet ahead of the event.

We have an extensive understanding of event-specific security concerns and ensure we have relevant certificates to speed up our delivery processes. For example, at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, the warehouse at our headquarters was certified by the West Midlands police, so we could package goods, seal our lorries and deliver overnight to Birmingham without further security checks.

This provides our customers and the venues with a transparent farm-to-fork journey, which is further supported by our AA grade BRCGS storage and distribution accreditation.

Servicing customers within the event space means we have to effectively deliver 52 Christmases a year.

What are your growth plans for the year ahead, and do you have a overarching strategy for the business? How will the business differ from what it looks like now, and also, in terms of size, compared with its present-day state?

It is a great time to lead foodservice at Freemans Event Partners, and the next five years look extremely busy for us. We are looking to double the business in size and are in the process of putting together the teams to help us achieve that.

We are building innovative assets to help us lead the way in food and beverage solutions, and our latest self-serve retail concept at Lord’s Cricket Ground is a sign of that ambition. Technology is another area of growth.

We are looking to expand outside of the UK and are building in-house capabilities and structures for European expansion.

What is the biggest challenge that the business faces?

The events industry is not without its challenges as our revenue is dependent on factors outside of our control, such as bad weather and attendance.

Having said that, taking the opportunity and converting it to success, making sure we are foodservice-led for the event industry and that we deliver the right product to customers is a key consideration.

Lastly, as an event business, we are a people business. We need to consolidate the growth of our team and develop it from within.

How do you ensure that the business has a strong gender balance, and is attracting the workforce of tomorrow?

We are fortunate that within the foodservice division, we have a strong gender balance. Our senior team is 50% female, 50% male.

Regardless of gender, we make sure our workplace is exciting, with development capabilities for all. We want the strongest candidates to do the best job they can for them and for our business.

1Source: UK music festivals sales set to surpass pre-Covid (, 2Source: From must-see gigs to VIP tickets: how live events are on course to defy UK cost of living crisis | Travel & leisure | The Guardian

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Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. He can be found on Twitter at @BW_PaulHill, or contacted via and 07960935659.


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