"In their own ways, both companies instilled a belief in their staff that theyre as good, if not better, than anyone else in the industry, and thats what sets them apart as inspirational businesses."
Charles Saunders Food Service and Harlech Foodservice have both been named on the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1,000 Companies To Inspire Britain 2016 report.
The list singles out fast-growing SMEs from across Britain that have demonstrated excellence and innovation in their sector.
Bristol-based Charles Saunders Food Service recorded £19.7m in turnover for 2014-15, an increase of £1m on the previous financial year. It employs 126 people and operates from two depots in Bristol, with customers throughout the South West, Dorset and South Wales.
The company has grown over the last eight years, increasing from £6m in turnover and 30 members of staff in 2008.
Harlech Foodservice employs 150 people and had a turnover of £25m in 2015, operating from depots in Criccieth in North-west Wales, Chester and Shrewsbury.
The company has grown steadily by diversifying its offering to customers. It acquired a butchery business in 2012, which alone generates a turnover of £4m a year, and has secured partnerships with specialists in fresh fruit and vegetables, wines and craft ales, and niche produce for high-end hotels and restaurants.
Fairway Foodservice is a buying and marketing organisation operating on behalf of wholesalers based in the UK, Ireland and Spain. It has 17 members and a collective turnover of £556m.
Chris Binge, chief executive of Fairway Foodservice, said: “Harlech Foodservice and Charles Saunders Food Service are two of the most progressive businesses in the organisation, and we feel proud to be associated with them.”
Darren Gaulton, managing director of Charles Saunders Food Service, said: “It was a real surprise to be included in the list. I think a lot of the reason for that is down to our staff.
“We’re keen to promote from within and reward their excellence and achievements, which leads to a low turnover of staff and a really good pool of knowledge and expertise. We have one sales rep who has been with us for 30 years on the same patch, who continues to bring in new business and hit targets, which is extraordinary.
“We bought a competitor, Good Morning Foods and Disposables, in 2012, and put a lot of effort into integrating it with our existing business. We’ve really started to see the fruits of those labours over the last 18 months.
“As with our friends at Harlech, what’s crucial to us is putting the customer first, and doing everything we can to give them what they want.
“We’re delighted that our efforts to grow and improve have been recognised, and we’re committed to continuing to develop the business, starting with plans to move to a new, bigger depot in future.”
Andrew Foskett, joint managing director of Harlech Foodservice, said that staff were also central to the company’s success, alongside diversification.
Andrew said: “Our staff have been absolutely crucial to our growth.. We firmly believe in finding the person with the right skills and attitude, and encouraging them to grow and develop in their respective roles.
“About five years ago, we moved to a bigger depot after outgrowing our previous premises, which had started to inhibit our development. We extended it last year, and we’re looking to other ways of expanding the business in the future.
“I think the other key aspect of our growth has been diversifying what we offer. Customers want to have something weird and wonderful on their menu, which is different to what their competitors can offer.
“We’ve focused on finding the right contacts and partnerships to give them those products, and that’s paid dividends both in new business and increasing sales of our other products.
“The butchery has also been a huge success. You have to get your offering spot-on from the start to build brand loyalty – one mistake and you lose a customer forever. We’ve worked really hard to build up a loyal customer base, which is continuing to grow.”
Chris Binge added: “In their own ways, both companies instilled a belief in their staff that they’re as good, if not better, than anyone else in the industry, and that’s what sets them apart as truly inspirational businesses.
“Both lead by example and have shown a real desire to be the innovative and achieve significant growth, and I congratulate them both on their inclusion in the London Stock Exchange Group’s report.”
The report, which is supported by HSBC, The Telegraph, the Business Growth Fund and Cenkos, says that the food and drink sector is worth £21.5 billion to the UK economy.
Members benefit from access to more than 600 own-label products, collective buying power, marketing support and discounted subscription to the Erudus One product specification database.
For more information on Fairway Foodservice, visit www.fairwayfoodservice.com, or follow Fairway Foodservice on Twitter @fairwayfood.