Key growth step

Hickory secures first deal outside Scotland

Stephanie Stubbs says The Sands Centre is the first step outside Scotland

Scottish catering and events company Hickory has landed its first contract outside Scotland after taking over operations at a flagship leisure and entertainment venue in Cumbria.

Hickory fought off strong competition to be appointed exclusive partner of The Sands Centre in Carlisle, which is close to completing a £27m redevelopment.

It is the latest success for Hickory following a string of business wins. It recently signed a partnership with the National Museum of Scotland to offer a range of food and drink experiences for the landmark venue’s private guests.

It also gained a new contract to operate the hospitality at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, alongside working with Fringe by the Sea Festival for a second year running.

Stephanie Stubbs, Hickory managing director, said the Sands Centre deal marked a major milestone for the Edinburgh-based business.

“This appointment marks the first step in our plan to expand outside Scotland, while continuing to grow in our home market,” she said.

The Sands Centre’s transformation, funded by Carlisle City Council and operated  by GLL, is due to be complete this autumn. The venue – which will combine two existing sites at The Sands Centre and The Pools – will provide entertainment, leisure, swimming and catering facilities on a single site, with estimated yearly footfall of more than one million.

The 10-year partnership with Hickory will include a new restaurant with a range of dining areas, a coffee shop with separate indoor seating, two downstairs bars, an upstairs bar and a large outdoor terrace. Hickory will also service bespoke catering packages for meetings, conferences, and celebrations in The Sands Centre’s flexible function rooms.

With a versatile programme ranging from music and theatre to comedy and talks, some of the eclectic events drawing crowds to The Sands Centre this autumn include Blood Brothers, Russell Kane, The Proclaimers and Sarah Millican. 

James McGarry, general manager – The Sands Centre, said: “We’re excited to be nearing completion on our multi-million pound redevelopment. Our food and drink offering must be of the highest quality to reflect our new surroundings.

“Hickory clearly understands the wide range of customers that will visit The Sands Centre, the type of food and drink they will be looking for and the prestigious events we will be hosting.”

In 2023, The Sands Centre will host 200 professional events with capacity for over 250,000 customers. As well as its programmed events and performances, the facility will be home to a number of sporting events of regional and national significance including regional swimming galas, sports specific tournaments and competitions.

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