Northern Ireland outsourcing company Mount Charles has announced a new contract with the Republic's Department of Health.
It's the latest in a series of contracts which the Belfast-based firm has won in the public sector across the border although catering accounts elsewhere have been badly hit by the pandemic.
In the latest accounts for the NI parent company, the Mount Charles Group Ltd, for the year ending September 2019, pre-tax profits fell from £1.5m to £0.8m. However, revenue had grown from £40m to £43m, with £2m of revenue gained from the Republic of Ireland market.
But the company accounts added that Covid-19 had brought a 68% temporary reduction to income streams, with renegotiation taking place of most of its catering contracts. However, its cleaning contracts were back to pre-Covid levels.
The accounts, which were filed in September, said that the company had put its Belfast International Airport catering contract "on hold". The administration of Flybe had also hit its contract at Exeter Airport, the base of Flybe.
However, it said that the company had the support of its bank, Danske Bank, and that its strong relationships with customers and suppliers would be key to helping its recovery post-Covid.
In a contract win, the catering and facilities management company will now provide catering to all occupants of the department's building at Miesian Plaza on Baggot Street, Dublin.
Mount Charles said the facilities will feature their Urban Square brand, as well as a barista coffee bar under its Urban Coffee Co brand, and an 'Honest' salad bar.
Terry Woods, commercial director at Mount Charles Ireland said: "We are delighted to add the Department of Health, to our portfolio of high-profile Dublin clients and look forward to providing the Department of Health with our signature professional service.
"All our food will be prepared fresh on site from locally sourced ingredients and our bespoke, innovative menus are developed by our culinary development team, led by Darren Curran."
In the last two years, the company has secured contracts worth a combined €40m with the Department of Transport Tourism & Sport, Irish Blood and Transfusion Service, Ordinance Survey Ireland, the Abbey Theatre, the National Aquatic Centre, Custom House, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Griffith College and Maynooth College.
A deal with RTE was announced in December last year, and involves providing food and drink for around 1,800 staff at the broadcaster's Donnybrook headquarters. Mount Charles employs around 2,500 people across Ireland and the UK, and has around 400 clients.
But all catering businesses have been affected by the adoption by companies of full-time working from home for employees since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That has resulted in lower demand for canteens as fewer employees will be travelling into workplaces. In addition, increased take-up of remote learning at universities also means lower demand at university cafe and restaurants.