Foodservice firm boosted by butchery buy

Wales-based Harlech Foodservice has boosted its turnover substantially following the acquisition of a butchery business three years ago.

Since the purchase of a local catering butcher’s in Pwllheli, Harlech has invested £400,000 in the butchery arm and has seen the butcher’s revenue grow from £500,000 to £4m in just a few years.

Harlech is a member of Fairway Foodservice, a network of independent food distributors servicing the catering industry throughout the UK and Ireland. The decision to acquire the local butcher’s came after a meeting with Fairway.

Harlech’s purchasing director Ian Woodcock explained: “It all stemmed from a meeting with Fairway Foodservice about five years ago, where Andrew [Foskett] and I were presented with research that showed 16%-18% of foodservice spend was on fresh meat.” Andrew Foskett is joint managing director for Harlech.

“It was like a eureka moment for us. After carrying out some further research into how to actually add fresh meat to our services, we purchased the catering butcher’s business in Pwllheli.”

Harlech Foodservice’s Bwydlyn branded meat has become one of its main revenue providers, contributing to an overall turnover of approximately £25m for 2015.

“Since buying the butchery, its turnover has grown from £500,000 to more than £4m this year, with a projected turnover of £10m by 2020,” said Woodcock, who also revealed plans to develop the business with a “£1m expansion of the butchery” to help cope with forecast growth.
 
Bwydlyn meat sources produce from local manufacturers, as well as importing a variety of products. “We’re really focused on supplying what our customers want, whether that’s sourcing really fantastic Welsh produce or good-quality British meat. It’s about supplying as much as possible in one location,” said Woodcock.

“The meat opens doors to us in other areas of the business too – we’ve seen sales increase across other products on the back of its success.”

A representative from Fairway Foodservice will visit Harlech’s business within the coming weeks to see if the latter’s success can be replicated elsewhere for its members. Chris Binge, managing director at Fairway Foodservice, commented: “Harlech is a prime example of seeing an opportunity and making it work.

“We’re always looking at the market to try and predict where it will be in five or 10 years’ time and try to guide our members on what opportunities are available.
 
“Relationships are so important to success in foodservice, and forming working partnerships with local butchers and suppliers, or taking a gutsy approach like Harlech and buying one out, is making a real difference to the bottom line of a number of our members.”

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