Freemans Events

Silverstone F&B operator Freemans Events Partners has a vision to “bring the high street” to the Formula One event with a host of high-profile hospitality brands.

Freemans, which served an estimated 500,000 guests at the British Grand Prix over the weekend, is already working with Costa Coffee and German Doner Kebab at the motor racing circuit.

By next year, it hopes to have installed eight major high street brands at the three-day event, which it believes will be a win-win for Freemans, the brands, and F1 fans in attendance.

“We have a vision, we want to bring the high street to events,” Freemans’ chief operating officer Simon Hanna told MCA. “We think having them in one big line-up will be really powerful. People are used to them in their everyday lives, so let’s bring them here.

“We can expose them [high street brands] to a whole new audience, while giving fans a great experience. The brands see the value of coming to these events. They can promote a new concept, a new coffee product, a new range, while we can build a slick new look and feel.

“By 2025 we’ll have eight big brands at least lined up. There’ll be frictionless, self-serve - all these ideas are coming from the high street.

“These are experiences the brands never thought they could get to. Likewise we never thought we could get those brands.”

Freemans operators more than 280 temporary food and drink outlets at Silverstone, serving more than 90 different cuisines.

A family-owned business established in 1975, it has grown from a single fish and chip outlet at Silverstone, to a business that reaches over 15m people a year at over 400 events, partnering with Wembley Stadium, Twickenham, The Jockey Club, Victorious Festival, London Stadium and more.

In the year to 31 January 2023, turnover at the business was £61.5m, while EBITDA was £3.9m.

Alongside its own 50-60 food outlets, serving classics such as fish & chips, burgers, coffee, and fried chicken, Freemans works with c3,000 concessionaries to keep its portfolio offering fresh and adaptable to consumer trends.

“We do a lot of research in the business, we work at a lot of events, we see what the market wants,” Hanna added. “Last year our biggest cuisine was Greek, so this year we increased our Greek portfolio.

“We’ve also seen Korean food and Japanese food grow in popularity. Who would have thought 10 years ago that steamed bao buns would outsell burgers?”

Freemans draws on its own data insight to inform its concessionaires of cuisine gaps in its offering, working with them to develop new concepts and design.

At more international events, such as Taylor Swift at Murrayfield, the UFC at the Co-op Live, and Major Leage Baseball at London Stadium, Freemans tailors its offering to a more American audience, with more muffins, churros and doughnuts for example.

Freemans, which also provides payments solutions, has been developing more self-service grab and go offerings in the last 12-18 months.

“We’ve all had cost increases,” Hanna added. “The days of having 20 or 30 staff isn’t the most efficient way to run your business.

“That, and people want to grab their stuff, scan it and move on as quickly as possible.

“Grab and go allows us to maximise all the space and have greater variety, with quicker service, more efficient.”