Procurement and training excellence

Mike Haslin, chief executive officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, shows how these two elements go hand in hand at TUCO

The higher and further education sectors continue to face significant commercial challenges. As the leading professional membership body for in-house public sector caterers, TUCO is committed to delivering procurement savings and best-in-class training.

We believe it is the combination of these two elements which will best help support universities through these challenging times.

In this era of constant downward pressure, our ambition is to help universities achieve value for money across their procurement. Our combined spend, which is in excess of £146m, helps to drive down costs and maximise quality for our members.

“The TUCO Efficiency Review provided key strategic business intelligence that helped build and support our catering strategy. The report and its scoring mechanisms showed areas where development was needed and gave assurance in areas where a good score was gained.

“In addition, we found the industry KPIs and benchmarking of value in measuring ourselves against the industry, and the recommendations made by the report, combined with advice on where to source avenues of support and guidance, was invaluable. An excellent business tool that we will use again to measure our progress.”

CARDIFF UNIVERSITY on the Efficiency Review

We are currently trusted to work with more than 120 universities, 200 colleges, 40 local authorities and 20 NHS trusts. And our not-for-profit procurement services offer a consistent and efficient buying process, with a full-time CIPS-qualified team dedicated to cutting costs.

With commercial success at the forefront of university strategy, smart procurement can help deliver those much-needed savings and quality control integrity. At TUCO we have developed several innovative procurement technologies which do just that. These include TUCO Online, a revolutionary web-based eProcurement system which provides a solution for procurement teams to manage and control supplier trading relationships. The dynamic purchasing portal delivers improved efficiency, complete visibility, reduced costs and compliance across entire organisations with one simple login.

Our Further Competition Service offers bespoke buying support and is another of our forward-thinking procurement innovations. It includes benchmarking of service levels, scrutinising spend data and negotiating better prices. Like our TUCO Online service, it is free to members.

Both procurement tools are complemented by our newly-launched Efficiency Review.

For a small subsidised cost, TUCO, along with a leading consultancy, will independently measure performance and provide valuable metrics which can be used to improve take-up, spend per head and margin.

We don’t believe our role is purely a procurement one; we also have a strong focus on supporting members to grow and develop. Our award-winning TUCO Academy provides a wide range of learning and development opportunities, all of which are subsided for full members. Recognising the urgent need to retain, upskill and recruit staff, our extensive selection of day courses, e-learning, development days and study tours can be used as a structured personal development opportunity for university staff.

To enhance our training offer, we collaborated with London South Bank University (LSBU) School of Law and Social Sciences to deliver a master’s degree in Hospitality Leadership in Universities and the Public Sector. We were extremely proud to have fully sponsored 10 TUCO members in the first cohort of 2019 and we are delighted once again to offer a bursary to TUCO members for the 2020 intake. Bursaries of up to 100% of teaching fees are available to TUCO members.

These ideas fall under our four strategic platforms of Share, Learn, Buy and Grow. Developed to enable universities to share and celebrate achievement, learn via a wide range of courses, buy via our EU-compliant catering frameworks and grow through our latest market research and trend analysis. We believe it is the unique combination of these platforms which will help bring commercial success to universities in these challenging times. 


  • Delivering annual savings to members in excess of £15m
  • £146m+ annual spend
  • Members gain access to more than 200 quality-assured suppliers
  • 19 EU-compliant framework agreements
  • Full-time CIPS qualified team dedicated to cutting costs
  • No barriers to entry – 80% of TUCO suppliers are SMEs or micro enterprises
  • Award-winning training academy
  • In depth, insightful market intelligence through TUCO research
  • Sharing of best practice through member case studies
  • Access to added-value benefits such as:
  1. – TUCO Online: a revolutionary
    web-based eProcurement system which provides a dynamic online purchasing portal
  2. – Further Competitions: a personalised procurement service
    that is FREE to members. We work with your staff to offer as much or as little support as they need, freeing them up to focus on other areas
  3. – Efficiency Review: working with a leading consultancy, we offer a personalised, independent, measure of performance

To find out more about TUCO, please visit or contact Mike Haslin CEO on 0161 713 3421 or 

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