Ambassador Theatre Group takes a bow with Zonal tech

Introducing Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG)

Founded in 1992

The UK’s largest theatre owner and operator

Operates more than 50 venues across the UK, the US and Germany

Portfolio includes historic West End theatres such as the Duke of York’s, Harold Pinter, Piccadilly, Savoy, the Apollo Victoria and the Lyceum

“Our sales activity peaks dramatically in the hour before a show and during the interval when staff can serve several hundred drinks in a very short amount of time, so they need to be well-trained to cope with these bursts of intense sales activity”
Colin Chester, Buying Manager, ATG

The business challenge

With more than eight million customers passing through its doors every year, ATG was looking for ways to use point of sale technology to speed up sales in its bars and restaurants, to reduce queues before performances and during intervals, and improve their customer experiences. They also wanted to upgrade their financial planning and stock taking technology and take back full control of stock taking for all their bars and restaurants.

Another of ATG’s key requirements was to find a simple way to raise purchase orders for new stock electronically and replace the inefficient and unreliable paper forms theatre managers had to fill in by hand.

Drive more profit from every visitor

Control the huge quantities of sales data it generates daily

Paper-only purchase order forms were filled in by hand

External suppliers were paid to carry out stock checks

“A major benefit of Zonal’s approach to training was that staff and managers had lots of opportunities to practice using every function of the technology with experienced trainers on hand to guide us through every eventuality.”
Colin Chester, Buying Manager, ATG
This is a Zonal EPoS system

The solution

ATG adopted Zonal’s EPoS technology, EPoS hardware with chip and pin devices, as well as an integrated purchase-to-pay solution across its box offices, bars and restaurants. ATG also invested in a bespoke training programme for each venue, which included a two-day management course, intensive live support on the day of installation and practical assistance for the first stock-take.

  • A customised training and support programme was developed for each venue
  • A new purchase-to-pay system with electronic ordering
  • EPoS technology allowing staff to clearly identify drinks that have been pre-ordered
  • Reporting providing intelligence on interval drinks performance by venue

“Adopting Zonal’s technology has enabled us to take greater control of our business than ever before and made it possible for us to view our company in a completely new way, based on clear facts that are easy to gather”
Colin Chester, Buying Manager, ATG


By implementing Zonal’s EPoS technology for theatres and investing in a thorough programme of staff training, ATG has significantly reduced interval congestion and increased the volume of sales. Their new purchase ordering system makes it much easier for their accounts team to process orders and means prices are always consistent and up-to-date. After a successful implementation, ATG is now trialling an integrated loyalty card system to gather information about customer buying behaviours.

Bespoke training has ensured staff have a thorough understanding of the system and the knowledge they need to train new members of staff.
This is the integration icon
Venue managers can now create electronic orders for supplies
Increased sales during intervals
This is the customer data icon
A reduction in queues at the bar has improved the overall customer experience
Reports on interval drinks performance by venue are used to design initiatives to improve performance across all venues.
“Using the system’s sales reports, we can now see how each of our venues is performing at any time, and that is extremely important for us, particularly as we grow, to ensure we support every part of the group in the most productive ways. The intelligence we receive from the system at the end of every day, week and month is being used to inform our plans and helping us to develop new and effective ways of working and marketing ourselves.”
Colin Chester, Buying Manager, ATG

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Nimax Theatres serves up a seamless guest experience

This is a Nimax Theatre, a Zonal customer
Nimax Theatres is home to many of London’s iconic West End theatres: Apollo, Duchess, Lyric and Palace Theatre.

Despite the rich heritage of the theatres that date back to 1889, Nimax, which was established in 2005, has brought its technology bang up to date since teaming up with Zonal.

We all know that queuing for a drink during the interval can be time-consuming and was something Nimax was keen to resolve with an EPoS solution that could manage its 40,000 plus weekly footfall.

The search for a suitable EPoS partner was brought into sharp focus back in 2016 when The Palace was chosen to become the home of the award winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2.  To meet the unique demands of the play that runs over two performances and create a magical experience beyond the stage, the 1,400 seat theatre had to undergo a complete refurbishment from the stage to the bar areas.

“A total sell out, often with two performances in a day, meant we had to reimagine our bar areas to manage the unusually large number of people visiting both performances, so it was the ideal time to update our technology to optimise the trading opportunity,” explained Nimax’s customer experience manager, James Charlton.

Having asked contacts in the hospitality industry who they would recommend as their EPoS partner, Zonal’s name kept cropping up.

James added: “Zonal had that ‘star’ quality we were looking for and we’ve not been disappointed.  The levels of support, training and service we required have been surpassed, especially as we need to know that someone is there to help in the evenings, including weekends.”

Nimax has now installed 50 Aztec EPoS terminals into all six theatres, as well as its integrated card payment solution and digital signage system, AdMargin.  In terms of sales and customer experience the upturn has been immediate.  “As soon as we go live with Aztec in a theatre, the impact is tangible with a significant increase in sales highlighted in the weekly reports, which we can now access hassle-free.

“Everything has sped up and made us far more efficient from the real-time reporting we can access across the group in terms of trading trends, stock levels and tracking waste, to taking efficient contactless payments.  In the past our staff had to do the mental arithmetic and enter everything manually, now it’s managed through the EPoS, so they can spend the time preparing drinks and deliver a superior service.  The room for error has also been removed.”

In addition, AdMargin is proving to be an exciting addition to Nimax’s marketing, as the team can remotely manage promotions and advertise shows in other theatres by automatically streaming dynamic content, such as images and video, onto the digital signage system.

The system’s unique technology enables Nimax to tailor campaigns to respond to date, location and time of day for a truly personalised experience.

For James, Zonal technology has taken the ‘drama’ out of service and released the pressure on the interval drink, helping the group deliver memorable experiences (for all the right reasons) that match the quality of the shows it puts on.

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Zonal gets in the ring with Boxpark

This is Boxpark logo
Street food, drinks and events specialist, Boxpark, has appointed Zonal as its technology partner.

The first of its three sites to install Zonal’s award winning Aztec EPoS system is its latest venture at Wembley Park, spanning 50,000sq ft of modern street food and leisure space and attracting up to 10,000 people a day.  Established Boxpark sites in Shoreditch and Croydon are to follow later in the year.

With ambitious plans to open another 12 locations across the UK, Boxpark was looking for a technology provider that could flex and grow with the business, while providing a stable and secure solution that could cope with high levels of footfall.

“The installation of 13 Aztec EPoS systems has gone without a hitch.”

Ben McLaughlin, Boxpark’s operations manager

We are already serving more people at a faster rate, as we only accept card and contactless payments, helping us to build sales and customer satisfaction levels without having to increase our 50 strong staff.”

For Boxpark it was also important that Zonal could fulfil the Wembley contract within a short space of time while coordinating activity with onsite contractors and other third-party network and broadband providers.

“It has been exciting for the Zonal project team to work with such an innovative pop-up concept and hugely rewarding to see it come together on time and within budget.”

Tim Chapman, Zonal’s sales director

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Operational efficiencies bloom at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Introducing the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Attracts almost 1 million visitors a year

Operates the Gateway Restaurant through its caterer, Sodexo

Capacity for 260 covers

Serves up to 1,700 meals a week

The Gateway Restaurant is an important source of income

“Adopting an EPoS solution that is geared for the hospitality sector has been a revelation, giving us significantly improved levels of control, flexibility and data capture that was not previously accessible.”
Paul Mitchell, Catering Services Director, Sodexo

The business challenge

The Gateway Restaurant’s size offers potential for great income, but it’s also a challenge to keep costs down and streamline operations. At the same time, the customer experience needs to be excellent to keep the venue popular and profitable.

Manual orders meant slow service and risk of human error

Customer experience was being compromised

Difficult to get insights into business performance

Lack of understanding around what slows down food preparation

Lack of tech integration meant little data to work with

“The fact that iServe and Kitchen iQ work together with EPoS, gives us insight into the business that we never thought possible.”
Paul Mitchell, Catering Services Director, Sodexo
This is Zonal's Kitchen Management System

The solution

Zonal’s EPoS system was installed, offering built-in business modules ranging from finance and people management, through to stock and pricing. In addition, Zonal’s handheld ordering solution – iServe and kitchen management solution – Kitchen iQ were implemented, with a wide range of immediate benefits.

  • iServe allows staff to send orders directly to the bar or kitchen
  • Orders are clearly presented on screens in the kitchen as soon as they’re taken
  • Faster, more accurate service improves the customer experience
  • Tech integrations give insights into performance and areas for improvement
  • Zonal’s flexible solutions give greater power to make small improvements when needed

“The quality of EPoS reporting is excellent and has made the day to day running of the restaurant more efficient, structured and ultimately profitable. The integrated solution enables us to quickly identify and update menus, pricing and table allocation.”
Paul Mitchell, Catering Services Director, Sodexo


Zonal’s range of integrated solutions allow The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to achieve its goals of streamlining service processes, giving staff the tools to free up time to focus on delivering outstanding customer experiences. Reporting capabilities enable the team to make data-driven decisions to further improve performance and profitability.

Orders sent to the kitchen automatically
EPoS integration for operational efficiency
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Improved speed of service and customer experience
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Ability to streamline operations and work more cost-effectively
“With Zonal we are also able to plan our teams much better and avoid unnecessary payroll costs, building in efficiencies.”
Paul Mitchell, Catering Services Director, Sodexo

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Trent Bridge takes stock of success with Zonal tech

This is Trent Bridge Stadium, a Zonal customer
Historic Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, based at Trent Bridge, has brought its technology bang up to date with a £60,000 investment in Zonal’s EPoS system, which is set to give the venue payback within two years.

With more than 17,000 visitors through its doors at peak times, the Club was looking for an intelligent system to replace its old tills.

Hospitality is a key part of the Trent Bridge offer, from matchday food and drink to corporate hospitality and large event catering, but until now, the venue had 40 tills that were not networked, so sales reporting and keeping track of stock was cumbersome and difficult.

Since then, a total of 30 Aztec EPoS systems have been installed throughout the ground, hosting a collection of applications, ranging from finance and people management through to stock and promotions, that helps operators to run an efficient and profitable business.

General manager of catering at Trent Bridge, Jason Hollingworth, said:

“Our old system was no longer fit for purpose, but Zonal came forward with the solution with its Aztec EPoS and integrated business modules – and we haven’t been disappointed.

“The system is intuitive and, with the vast majority of our 225 full and part-time staff in the hospitality team familiar with Aztec, so minimal training has been required.

“The quality of the reporting is excellent, giving us detailed and timely reports, with up-to-the-minute performance data. As a result, we have made savings on better stock management, and menu changes and pricing have never been easier.

“Ultimately, the service we offer our visitors has improved, and that has to be a good thing.”

Trent Bridge’s solution includes Zonal’s payment system (ZPS), with integrated chip and pin and contactless functionality, including Apple Pay technology.

It simplifies the payment process and enables retailers to turn customers faster, streamline processes, reduce operating costs and maximise revenue potential.

Hollingworth added:

“Previously, we couldn’t even take card payments, but, being a top-flight sporting venue our customers were rightly demanding a speedier, better experience and now we are on trend.

“We are advertising the new service and expect that we will very soon be a 50:50 cash / card business, which is great news for everyone, as we can serve more people, quicker.”

Trent Bridge has been so impressed by Zonal’s technology that the ground is looking to build on its commitment by installing iServe, Zonal’s handheld order pad, and its kitchen management system, Kitchen iQ.

These additional modules, that fully integrate with Aztec, will form part of the ground’s £7million media broadcast facilities and hospitality catering suite that are under construction at the Radcliffe Road Stand end of the ground, due for completion in April.

“The new suite currently under construction promises to transform our hospitality offer at Trent Bridge and will include a high end, 70-seater restaurant,” said Hollingworth.

“We need to be able to offer a seamless service and Zonal’s technology, which is robust and reliable, will help us achieve that from taking the orders front of house, to fulfilling the orders in the kitchen, to payment and keeping track of sales and stock availability.”

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Haulfryn Group realises efficiencies with Zonal technology

When premium holiday park company Haulfryn appointed Zonal to design an EPoS solution for its bars, restaurants and shops, it soon realised the technology could do far more to improve efficiency across the whole business and generate new revenue streams.

Haulfryn operates 34 exclusive holiday and residential parks throughout Wales and the South of England, many of which have won awards for the quality of their accommodation and service.
The company was looking for a front-of-house EPoS system to manage retail sales on its parks and share sales data easily with the company’s Microsoft NAV accounting package. But as well as making transactions and stock-taking easier, eliminating the need to double or triple-key sales information into head-office systems and improving the quality and timeliness of reporting information received by the parks’ food and beverage managers, the company is now using Zonal’s technology to underpin its long-term growth.

Steve Lattimore, Haulfryn’s IT Implementation Project Manager, explains: “We quickly saw that there was much more capability in Zonal’s system that we weren’t yet using; tools that would improve the way we worked and help us to understand our business in ways that could make a real difference to our bottom line.”

Merchandising and marketing

The company began using the system to analyse retail sales, in order to gauge which areas of its stocking and marketing strategy were working

“Zonal’s technology allows us to see exactly where our cash is coming from, so we can understand without any ambiguity which events, guest ales or new premium products work and which need to be removed, revised, or marketed more heavily,” says Steve.

“This level of control is great for our business because it allows us to make quick decisions that improve our business based on clear, accurate, up to the minute information.”


Zonal’s system is also helping Haulfryn to manage its thriving leisure business, which offers customers a range of activities including white water rafting, canoeing and cycling as part of the Hoseasons Go Active scheme.

Haulfryn Group

“Our leisure business is set to benefit significantly from the technology,” explains Steve.

“Not only will it allow customers to book sessions and plan their trip from our website before they arrive, but it will also enable us to create staff rotas that reflect demand, so we’re never over or under-staffed, and that is great for cost-efficiency.”

“Zonal works for our business because of its ongoing investment in evolving its solutions and continual commitment to embrace modern technology to help companies like Haulfryn operate more efficiently and harness new revenue streams,” he adds.

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Bowled over by efficiencies at Hollywood Bowl Group case

Hollywood Bowl Group is the UK’s number 1 bowling venue in the UK and boasts 61 sites across the UK. Hollywood Bowl Group sites combine bowling with amusement machines, licensed bars and snack bars to provide their customers with a whole evening of entertainment in a single venue.

Powerful reporting

Leisure and hospitality have always been a close partnership. Zonal bring that partnership closer together by supplying a management system that integrates fully with the Lane Management System used by Hollywood Bowl Group. Dave Smith, the Food and Beverage Manager at Hollywood Bowl Group feels that the biggest failing of their previous EPoS system was the lack of reporting tools and the inability to analyse business performance. “Zonal’s Back Office software means that the manager now spends less time doing admin and more time doing other things, speeding up all business processes”. Indeed when managers spend less time in the office doing paperwork, they can concentrate on running the business and identifying ways to make more money!

Zonal’s Dimensions reporting tool is fully customisable allowing Hollywood Bowl Group to view detailed reports on all aspects of their business. As Hollywood Bowl Group’s business grows and changes, so too can Dimensions reporting. Dimensions had been configured to report on the issues that affect Hollywood Bowl Group today, but Mr Smith was particularly impressed by having the power “to tailor this tool to his needs”.

Thorough user training

Training is a crucial part of modern computerised business. Zonal excel in this field and Dave Smith was particularly impressed with the structure of the training courses and Zonal’s training facilities. Zonal’s training courses cover all aspects of installation, site setup and day-to-day tasks and each course has been written in such a way that it can be used both to learn about the system in a training environment and as reference material during live installations.

Detailed stock control

“Zonal has an excellent stock control system”. Mr Smith is well aware of the importance of careful stock control and Zonal’s system is so powerful that he can obtain accurate stock reports in real-time – the back office PC produces reports that are accurate to within 5 seconds. Dave Smith can also analyse stock movements to identify fastest selling lines and the responses of customers to promotions. This way if sales are moving slowly he can introduce extra promotions mid way through the trading period to boost sales.

Mobile EPoS handheld terminals

Handheld terminals come into their own in the bowling environment. Bowling is a group activity, so nobody wants to be the one to go to the bar. However, with handheld terminals your customers don’t need to go without a drink and you don’t have to miss a sale. Sales staff can take orders without taking anyone away from the action and waiting staff can deliver the drinks. Teamwork that can keep your customers happy and your business booming!

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Bourne Leisure reaps rewards with Zonal integration

Zonal’s innovative, integrated solutions prove to be a perfect fit for Bourne Leisure’s fast moving business.

“It is the backbone of a large, multi-site business like ours with over 200 restaurants, bars and shops each demanding something different from their technology, and it was important for us to find a system that would fit across all of those settings,” says Neil Hobbs, Head of EPoS and MIS at Bourne Leisure.

“Zonal’s solution addresses many of our needs, from fixed and handheld EPoS in our bars and restaurants to real time management reporting, and that means we save time and money because we don’t have to integrate systems from more than one provider.”

Retail solution

As one of the largest Spar franchisees in the UK operating over 50 branded convenience stores on its Haven and Butlin’s parks, Bourne Leisure needed a retail solution that incorporated barcode scanning and shelf-edge labelling.

“Zonal has worked hard to understand our business model and develop its products to match our needs. As a result, we’re effectively running our multi-million pound retail business on the back of Zonal’s technology”

Handheld EPoS

Bourne has also adopted Zonal’s handheld devices in a selection of restaurants on its Butlin’s parks, enabling staff to take orders and payments at the table. As a result, the company has not only improved customer service but also seen a marked increase in sales.

At its Papa John’s pizza restaurant at Butlin’s Bognor Regis and Firehouse Grill restaurant at Butlin’s Minehead, 80 per cent of takings are now processed through handhelds.

Zonal’s handheld devices have had a major impact on our business, helping us to grow food and drink sales and improve service,”

“Providing efficient table service using the handhelds means staff are able to spend more time with customers and less time walking to and from a fixed station to take and input orders. “More one-to-one contact with customers has resulted in significantly higher order values, particularly on drinks, desserts and extras and a better guest experience.”

Management data

Using Zonal’s Dimensions Management Reporting software also allows Bourne’s head office teams to create and circulate performance reports quickly and easily. Working with Zonal, Bourne now plans to collect data from each site several times each day and deliver this information in an easy-to-view format within an hour of a transaction taking place.

“We intend to provide managers with KPIs, alert information and headline facts and figures via mobile devices,” explains Neil Hobbs. “Our aim is to keep them up to date with our fast-moving business and allow us to act quickly to remedy any problems and identify areas for improvement.”

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