Bruno VAQUETTE, Country President of Sodexo China, was interviewed by Modern Property Management.

In the global facilities management and service industry, other than “Facility Management(FM), a major genre in this industry, represented by America, , there is also another called “Integrated Facilities Management”, mainly based in Europe, among which Sodexo, a company founded in France with over 50-year history, is a well-known name always echoes around us.

Sodexo divides “Quality of Life” into six dimensions, Ease & Efficiency, Recognition, Social Interactions, Health and Well-being, Physical Environment, Personal Growth. Bruno VAQUETTE, Country president of Sodexo China said in the interview with Modern Property Management that integrated facilities management contains catering services and facilities management services at the same time, because in a broader sense, they are all concerned with people’s Quality of Life.

In China, Sodexo finds that an uprising number of Chinese companies have realized the importance of Quality of Life. In 2015, Sodexo Group and market research firm Harris Interactive conducted an investigation of 50 corporate leaders from companies with more than 2,000 employees, among which 98% of the interviewees believe that improving Quality of Life in the organizations will help their employees in a good morale, and 66% think that Chinese new-generation employees will be the most important motivator improving Quality of Life. For instance, there exist big differences on diet habit and preferences across China. So consumers will have a special need on food flavor, seeking for the familiar taste as their hometown’s. And this is why Sodexo pays attention to add local characteristics, such as food festivals, traditional festivals and other special food and activities when localizing in China’s market.

Bruno VAQUETTE joined Sodexo in 2001 as project manager of Information system and technology, in charge of designing and operation of Sodexo’s Intranet, and actively deployed the platform in the globe. Bruno came to China in 2014, working as executive director to manage all catering services in China. He served as Country President of Sodexo China since 2015.

To better understand the needs of clients and consumers in each segments, Sodexo launched transformation from region-centric to client and segment-centric since 2015, and it is Bruno VAQUETTE that led this transformation in China. To adapt to China’s innovation and digitalization trends, Sodexo set a digital transformation strategy in 2015. In 2017, Sodexo China became Group's first entity to implement digital transformation strategy as a national unit. Advanced technology such as VR HSE kitchen safety training, services-oriented robots, etc. are deployed in China.

Modern Property Management:

We know that there’s obvious difference between Europe and North America on facility management. Except from hard services, in Europe they also provide many soft services, such as catering. So, could you please name some reasons why Sodexo provides catering services to enterprises? 


In fact, Sodexo's 50-year history in the globe started from catering services, based on the keen insight into the market from our group founder Pierre BELLON in the 1960s. He found that in the 1960s when economic grew and job opportunities were plentiful, catering service market was a good opportunity because the new generation of workers, staff and managers needed a better working environment.

It is the same with Sodexo China. Sodexo entered the China market in 1995, not only because of the founders' ambition in this oriental market, but also because more and more European and American enterprises were entering China at that time and China's outsourcing market was just beginning. Sodexo, thus, brought "business outsourcing" model into China taking this opportunity. So, it is client’s need determines the services and solutions we provide.

This concept has been guiding Sodexo. Wherever we are, whether the way is gradually expanding from food services to integrated facilities management services, or vice versa, the premise is to meet the needs of clients and consumers. In many countries and regions, the development of integrated facilities management services has been started from a different and single service environment.

Facilities management in different territories is indeed different; sure with the variety in service scope, and also the distinct market condition in each segment. For example, Sodexo serves the Justice and Defense in North America based on the fact that this market is open, which may differ in China. However, in China, we also see different market potential. For example, we are also developing the Sodexo Live! market in China actively currently.

We think that IFM includes both food services and FM services, because they are all about the space and environment. In a broader sense, it’s related to people’s Quality of Life which is Sodexo’s consistent mission, which will also benefit to the performance of organizations and institutions. 

Modern Property Management:

What’s the difference between Sodexo’s food services and food delivery services in traditional hotel industry? Does Sodexo think that food services are the biggest difference or advantage when compared with its competitors? (In China, it can be called "selling point")


The biggest difference is that whether the consumer group is fixed or not. Sodexo provides food services for enterprises, universities & schools and hospitals in China. Commonly, hotel and social catering industry’s consumers are mobile, and the menu replacement frequency of them is actually not that high. However, we have a relatively fixed consumer group every day. This pushes us to change menus more frequently and to provide more diversified meals.

From the business model, we provide services to organizations and enterprises, but the ultimate target is individuals. We call it B2B4C model. This is one of the big differences.

Sodexo's more than 50 years of global experience and over 20 years of local operating experience in food services allow us to better understand the needs of our clients and consumers with a solid foundation and professionalism in terms of standardization, nutritional health and safety, supply management and continuous innovation and improvement.

Meanwhile, in the process of expanding integrated facilities management/ comprehensive Quality of Life services, we also enhanced our expertise on FM. For example, we helped our client, International School of Beijing earned ISO 55001 certification, which was benefited from the implementation of Sodexo’s AMF (Asset Management Framework) at the campus. AMF is a comprehensive life-cycle analysis tool developed for industrial and medical environments, which is deployed as a global solution as AMS. Thanks to our cross-segment expert platform, we achieved this success that demonstrates our service capabilities.

It should be said that the capabilities on providing professional and integrated facilities management services are Sodexo’s strength or selling points.

Modern Property Management:

What are the differences between providing food services to enterprises in China and those in Europe? What are the unique needs of Chinese clients?


Firstly, the food culture is definitely different. “Europe” is a huge territory with different countries. As French, my deepest feeling is that both French and Chinese food culture are complex and sophisticated. Sodexo has always advocated “think global and act local”, which means when we entered into China’s market we should adapt Chinese tastes based on our global resources and experiences.

Apart from the universally-known differences in cooking methods and cooking utensils, the food services we provide in China will also differ from those in Europe based on their working and living habits. For example, in Europe, we may only provide one lunch, while we are more likely to have three meals in China, which is also related to the fact that we have some manufacturing clients in China.

Meanwhile, China has a vast territory and abundant resources, so there are big differences on diet habit and preferences across the country. So our consumers will have a "home flavor” needs. This is why we pay attention to local food festivals, traditional festivals and other special food and activities when catering.

In China, our innovation on services is also the positive echo on the needs of clients and the market. This will not only enable us the active improvements on dishes, but also the deep research on the way we deliver services and consumers’ interaction. Besides, China’s consumers are likely to care about the social interaction during meals. They want to talk and communicate during meal time. So we also provide round table services that are different from that in Europe.

However, I would want to emphasize that the baseline on HSE, SOP, supply management, etc. are same across the world. We think this is also the foundation of our catering services.

Modern Property Management:

Traditionally, increasing welfare means increasing business expenses. How Sodexo communicates with your Chinese clients on improving the employee welfare? 


Compared with employee welfare, we are more would like to talk about employees’ Quality of Life for our clients. Welfare is just a part of Quality of Life. Actually we can do more, as the 6 dimensions of Quality of Life we defined (ease and efficiency, recognition, social interactions, health and well-being, physical environment, personal growth), we cannot restrict our services because they will be customized and developed according to requirements. However, we are impacting one/some of the dimensions of QoL for our clients’ employees.

In fact, we’ve found that there are more and more enterprises are realizing the importance of Quality of Life. Early back to 2015, according to a Sodexo-Harris Interactive survey of 50 Chinese business leaders who managed enterprises with more than 2,000 employees, 98% believe that improving the Quality of Life in the organizations will help their employees keep in good morale, 66% say that the next generation of China’s workforce will be the most important motivator in raising the Quality of Life in the nation’s corporations.

As I mentioned before, the improvement on individual’s Quality of Life will have positive impact on the performance of the enterprises. Our consumers earn happiness from our food services, wellness services, etc. to balance their work and life. They work with high efficiency in a tidy working environment, or you will find that our business support services (meeting services, mail services, and reception, etc.) will help them to save time and energy to focus on their own job…all those will eventually benefits to enterprise’s operating efficiency and business performance, because it’s their employee to create the enterprises’ success.


For Sodexo, or for Sodexo clients, the improvement in Quality of Life is "triple win". We help our clients achieve their performance goals through Quality of Life service. Let’s also take ISB as the example, the ISO certification means that the campus environment is safe and healthy, which will provide children with a better learning environment, and will also help schools to attract outstanding education talents, and retain them. Or take our cooperation with a number of well-known pharmaceutical companies as an example, through engineering services to help clients achieve energy saving, or get LEED certification, which will help our clients achieve their business goals at talent retention, corporate responsibility.

Modern Property Management:

After your arrival in 2014, you led an organizational transformation in Sodexo China. What reasons drove to this transformation and how did Sodexo China realize this goal?


The organizational transformation is a change initiative in Sodexo globally. China, as an important market, was involved.

We launched this transformation since 2015, to change our organization from the region-centric to segments-centric, to better understand the requirements of clients and consumers in each segment. We hope that people from children, adolescents, middle-aged and elderly people of all ages will experience Sodexo's better services in hospitals, schools, universities, workplaces, seniors’ institutes , as well as leisure and entertainment venues.

We divide our segments according to clients segments / types and integrate expert resources into service operation platforms, including Food Services Platform, Facilities Management Service Platform, HSE (Health, Safety, Environment), Supply Management, etc. Also, we have transversal function to support our business.

In China we currently develop our business on 3 segments, Corporate, Healthcare and Schools and Universities, which is in the framework of the Group’s organization. 

Modern Property Management:

What are the differences between managing Chinese suppliers and those in Europe and the U.S? What kind of localizations did Sodexo China carry out?


The same is for our supplier selection guidelines, review criteria, product quality control and training management, etc. Sodexo suppliers not only need to undergo rigorous product inspections, they also need to accept Sodexo's "Supply Chain Management and Code of Conduct" in order to jointly achieve the sustainable development goals.

The difference is that we in China will certainly 100% comply with local laws and regulations, and will work with Chinese suppliers. For example, 90% of agricultural products in China are derived from locally grown crops. Of course we also work with global strategic partners doing business in China.

In China, we also catch up with the local market trends, develop innovative channels and actively cooperate with e-commerce suppliers such as Jingdong, in order to meet the needs of the Chinese market.

Modern Property Management:

Mobile Internet technology has been booming in recent years in China. What kind of cutting-edge internet technology has Sodexo applied in its services in China?


China is indeed an innovative country and is also leading the global innovation and digitalization process. In 2015, Sodexo set a digital transformation strategy. In 2017, Sodexo China became the group's first entity to implement digital transformation strategy based on a national unit.

In the past year, we launched several digital projects including VR Kitchen Safety Training, Services-oriented Robots, FM APP, Food Service APP based on WeChat, and Small Scale Construction APP to echo the pain point onsite.

VR kitchen safety training project is to simulate the practice of kitchen safety operation via VR, to protect the safety and health of employees. Wearing the helmet, Sodexo employees and consumers will immediately step into the virtual Sodexo kitchen and he / she is supposed to help the virtual chef to accomplish safety kitchen operations in different scenarios, which are designed with perspective potential safety risks in this kitchen to be recognized and corrected, such as risks to cuts, burns, trips or hit by falling objects.

VR safety kitchen training substantially cuts down time for training, streamlines cumbersome processes, shortening 1-hour traditional training to 5 minutes, and is exempt from the limitation of space, materials, or staff, averts significant waste of food in face-to-face training as well. Till now, a total of more than 400 people have already experienced this safety kitchen training via VR, with the satisfaction rate reaching to 100%. Sodexo weighed the effect of the VR training, comparing situations before and after, predicting that this training would effectively help clients to reduce nearly 30% of similar accidents in these four scenarios.

We also introduced service-oriented robots to enhance business support services with technology and optimize traditional consumer satisfaction feedback processes. Robots are mainly for welcoming, guidance, entertainment, face recognition, promotion, and satisfaction survey and so on.

Modern Property Management:

With the mission of “improving Quality of Life”, Sodexo defines “Quality of Life” into six dimensions, Ease & efficiency, Recognition, Social Interactions, Health & Well-being, Physical Environment and Personal Growth. Which factor(s) does Chinese enterprises value most when Sodexo deliveries its services to China? Will Sodexo help them to re-plan their value goals?


There are different concerns at different times. When Sodexo stepped into China over 20 years ago, Chinese enterprises might more focus on efficiency and environment, which reflect the two dimensions: Ease & Efficiency, and Physical Environment, which may near to the way to achieve enterprises’ goal. While, now we found that more and more of them will care about individual’s Quality of life, as I mentioned before, they realize the importance of Quality of Life. So, that why Health and wellbeing, Personal growth, Social interactions and Recognition show the importance.

It should be said that we are involved in the path to help our clients achieving their value and goals, which is customized Quality of Life services. On account of that the premise of the partnership between Sodexo and clients is the shared value on improving the Quality of Life, so the general direction of our value and goal are the same. There is no need to re-plan. Moreover, we can help clients to reach their goal via our services, to achieve the common goal of both of us. 

Journalist:CHENG Xin

Selected from Modern Property Management,2018 Feb. 3rd issue

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