CaterEssence achieved two important milestones in 2023 linked to the expansion of the Group’s retail food operations. At the end of June 2023, CaterEssence mobilised a catering team to serve over 45,000 breakfast, lunch and dinner covers during July and August. “This was a record-breaking achievement for CaterEssence in terms of the number of students being served food while residing at University of Malta Campus Hub over the summer,” Alex says.

Another recent milestone achieved was on October 2, 2023 when CaterEssence took over the concession of the catering operations of the University of Malta canteen. “This new catering activity was rebranded under the newly established ‘Il-Kantin’, brand which saw a complete facelift, and new catering equipment purchased and installed, as well the formation of a new catering team. All done in a record 10 working days. This operation has become the largest single retail food activity for CaterEssence serving over 1,200 students daily,” he explains.

A significant challenge faced in 2023 was the rapid and unprecedented escalation of the international price of food following the breakout of the war in Ukraine. Key initiatives seeking to mitigate these cost increases as much as possible were linked to regular cost-control monitoring, menu optimisation, diversity of supplier base, and seeking further operational efficiencies. “As we navigate the challenges posed by rising food costs, it is essential to recognise the direct and immediate impact on our catering expenses. Addressing this multifaceted issue has necessitated a deliberate and proactive approach that encompasses meticulous cost management and strategic supply chain optimisation,” Alex says.

“In our commitment to controlling expenses, CaterEssence has undertaken a comprehensive review of its procurement and sourcing processes, seeking efficiencies and cost-saving opportunities at every juncture.” This has included renegotiating contracts with suppliers, exploring bulk purchasing options, and closely monitoring market fluctuations to secure the best possible pricing for quality ingredients. On the front of human resource challenges, CaterEssence recognises that the recruitment landscape in the food and catering industry can be exceptionally competitive requiring a multifaceted strategy to cultivate talent and enhance the team’s capabilities, fostering professional growth and development opportunities where possible.

“Seeking to overcome this challenge requires a combination of initiatives ranging from investing in training and development of current staff, creating a positive working environment to outsourcing of certain non-core functions,” Alex adds. In 2024, CaterEssence is planning to execute a robust five-year retail food strategy focused on expanding the Group’s retail food brands and expanding its outlets to cover new areas of reach around Malta. In conjunction with this expansion in retail food outlets CaterEssence is also investing heavily in implementing retail technology platforms for faster and better process controls, while enhancing sales and customer responsiveness.

Regarding Powerezi, the commitment to the advancement of sustainable energy solutions goes beyond mere observation. “We are actively engaged in monitoring and shaping developments in the recent national offshore energy policy published by government with a particular focus on the innovative frontier of floating wind turbines… We are actively collaborating with key stakeholders, government agencies, and industry experts to contribute to the development and deployment of cutting-edge technology in the offshore wind sector.” Powerezi is also in the process of establishing strategic partnerships with renowned foreign energy companies to leverage international expertise, share knowledge, and undertake joint ventures that span various sustainable energy sectors.