Retail & Food Service

Space extends capability with acquisition of Holmes Catering Equipment

Space UK, the parent company of Space Catering Equipment, has acquired the assets of York-based Holmes Catering Equipment, in a move that instantly increases the range of turnkey catering and fit-out business solutions the growing group can provide.

The Holmes name has long been established with the design and supply of quality catering solutions across a wide range of sectors, with a particularly strong presence with large retailers and hotel groups as well as a bespoke manufacturing arm at its purpose-built factory in York.

Through this acquisition, Space will drive accelerated growth across the business, as well as the ability to provide a broader range of services as part of its strategy to offer a total solution to its customers. It will also mean the establishment of Space’s first foothold in the North, to complement its existing businesses in Gloucester and London.

Space Managing Director Ian Bidmead says, “We’re excited by the acquisition of the well established and well regarded Holmes name and look forward to welcoming the business and its people into the Space fold.

“Geographically, the move fits perfectly with what we’re doing and it opens the door to additional projects for us in the retail and hotel sectors, alongside what we already do across foodservice and hospitality in general. We also see it as a great opportunity. We are committed to rebuilding the business, as a separate entity, and although there will be some synergies, it will be business as usual for Holmes' existing customers with the new company having its own management team.

“That team will be led by Lee Martin, who brings 25 years industry experience with him, as MD to run the new business as a separate company within our group. Lee has a wealth of knowledge and expertise and knows the business inside out so he’s a good catch for us and someone who can really make our new venture fly.”

As well as bringing Martin on board, Space has retained the existing core Holmes team, saving around 25 jobs from being lost.

Space will also be looking at how it can leverage synergies between the two businesses, in particular Holmes’ capability in shopfitting and joinery, to broaden the range of services its recently formed interior fit-out business can provide. This growing division, Space Interior Contracts, set up twelve months ago, already has a turnover of £1 million and means Space can look after every aspect of a commercial refurbishment, including the walls, ceilings, floors and M&E needs.

Ian says, “It’s a fantastic fit for us, being able to bolt on additional capability literally overnight, and very positive news for all our customers, too. Not only can we now do everything that’s needed for a turnkey office, retail or hospitality refurbishment, it gives us a lot more flexibility and control. We can’t wait to get started."

AF Blakemore reports rise in sales and profits

AF Blakemore & Son has posted a 7.4% increase in profits and 5% increase in sales in its latest set of accounts.

The food retail, wholesale and distribution business recorded annual sales of £1.19 billion with pre-tax profits up from £7.1 million to £7.6 million for the 2013/14 financial year. Net Assets have also grown by 10.9% to £78.6 million.

AF Blakemore Chairman Gwendoline Blakemore highlighted a good set of results, with the company beginning to reap the rewards from its price reduction strategy to help maintain sales in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Mrs Blakemore also pointed to the company’s “good solid progress during the first six-months of the current financial year with sale ten-figure turnover for the third year in succession.

The company has also built upon 2011’s acquisition of fellow SPAR wholesale Capper & Co, with the purchase of Lowries Cash & Carry and its three depots in the North of England and two BA Cash & Carry depots, based in South Wales, during 2013/14. Mrs Blakemore said that while trading conditions continue to be difficult there have been recent signs of growth in the economy with growing consumer confidence.

The Chairman says, “The food retailing scene has been in a state of turmoil over the past 12-months as retailers struggle to adapt to changing market conditions. The convenience retail food market continues to grow as consumers shop more frequently locally and less at large hypermarkets. There is however growing competition in this market as the major multiples continue to open new stores.

“We have continued to invest in the future of our SPAR independent retailers and it has been encouraging to see SPAR achieving many trade wins during the past twelve months with new store designs and formats.”

Jacek Pastuszka to succeed Isaac Sheps at Carlsberg Group

Carlsberg Group announces that Dr. Isaac Sheps, CEO of Baltika Breweries and Senior Vice President for Carlsberg Group’s Eastern Europe Region, has decided to step down from the Carlsberg’s Executive Committee. Isaac Sheps is succeeded by Jacek Pastuszka, currently CEO of Ringnes, Norway. The changes will take effect from January 1, 2015. In December 2014 Isaac will be handing over the business to Jacek and during 2015 Isaac Sheps will continue working in the Carlsberg Group as Senior Executive Advisor to the Carlsberg Group’s CEO and ExCom.

Commenting on this announcement, Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen, President and CEO of the Carlsberg Group says: “I understand and respect the decision Isaac has made, but I will miss the impact he has had in our senior management team. During his long career with Carlsberg Isaac repeatedly demonstrated his strong capabilities as a leader who can turn around businesses.”

Jacek Pastuszka (51) has been CEO of Ringnes Norway, part of the Carlsberg Group, since November 2011, the position he was appointed to after serving for three years as CEO in Carlsberg’s subsidiary in Poland. Before joining Carlsberg, he was CEO of American International Group (AIG) in Poland since 2005.

Bath Blue is world champion cheese

A classic blue veined cheese made by The Bath Soft Cheese Co has scooped the top award at the World Cheese Awards.

From nearly 2600 cheeses, the Bath Blue triumphed with one judge Louis Aird from Canada describing it as “poetry - like a river of cream over rocks, a perfectly balanced blue cheese with long, long lingering flavours.” The final Supreme panel of judges, representing nations including Australia, USA, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand and Canada, concurred, awarding the Bath Blue the highest score of the final judging stage.

Graham Padfield, MD of The Bath Soft Cheese Co, says, “This is truly fantastic news. It’s a huge privilege to be the winner and we can’t quite believe that we are now the makers of the World Champion Cheese. This gives us great confidence for the future as we have just invested in a new dairy building and we were taking a leap of faith, but this award confirms that we are getting our cheese right and that is a wonderful endorsement.

“Our cheese is made without any mechanisation, the milk comes from our herd of 160 organic cows, the curds are milled by hand and at each stage, this cheese is made by hand. Hugh, my son joined the farm five years ago and he is continuing the passion for making cheese."

John Farrand, MD of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, says, “The final judging was inevitably extremely tight. You are after all comparing the top 16 cheeses in the world and so the margins were tiny. The Bath Blue was the last cheese the super jury tasted and it stole the show by only two points. I shouldn’t say it but it’s great to have a British winner in World Cheese.”

Freshtime wins top award for Food to Go

Snack salad and vegetable specialist Freshtime UK scooped first prize in the Food To Go category at the Quality Food and Drink Awards. Freshtime won for The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Hot Smoked Salmon Salad, which it makes at its headquarters in Boston.

It was the firm’s second national award in a matter of weeks – Freshtime also won a national prize at the Wholesale Quality Food and Drink Awards when its SPAR Sweet Chilli Noodles came out on top in the Delicatessen category.

Bryan Nelson, National Account Manager at Freshtime, who collected the award, says, “It was fantastic to win another prize. These two awards are a tremendous boost for everyone working in our business. We’re delighted that the judges have recognised the care we put into preparation and the emphasis we place on the high-quality ingredients we use in our products. Food to go is a really important and growing category for us, so to win this award against some really excellent competition is a terrific achievement.”

Freshtime is a leading supplier of chilled, value added, ready-to-eat salads, snacks, prepared vegetables and sandwich fillers to leading multiple retailers and food service operators.

Celebrating Britain’s greatest food and drink producers from around the country, the Quality Food and Drink Awards brought together over nine hundred guests, 1200 entrants and the UK’s leading supermarkets. 87 products were awarded the coveted QFA and QDA trophies.

Lisa Tse inspires others in government export guide

To mark the start of Export Week, Lisa Tse, co-founder of Sweet Mandarin, the Chinese barbecue sauce business, has featured in a unique guide for first-time exporters regarding their experience with a UKTI trade mission.

‘From Local to Global’, fronted by Dragons’ Den investor and Government Export Ambassador Kelly Hoppen, includes examples of women-led companies that have successfully cracked international markets such as luxury chocolate maker, Amelia Rope, children seat belt makers, Belt Up Kidz and Chinese sauce manufacturer, Sweet Mandarin.

Lisa Tse has featured as part of Sweet Mandarin’s experience in joining a UKTI trade mission. From Local to Global forms part of the Business is GREAT Britain campaign, led by UK Trade & Investment and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Lisa and her sister Helen were running an award-winning Chinese restaurant, Sweet Mandarin, in Manchester when a customer asked if he could bottle some of their barbecue sauce. This request grew into a business, which employs four full-time staff and produces approximately 20,000 bottles of sauce per week.

Sweet Mandarin applied to join a delegation to SIAL in Paris, a major international food show. The business received funding towards the cost of the trip and appeared on the UKTI stand, resulting in an order from Russia. They joined a group of 100 British businesses accompanying the Prime Minister to China in December 2013. As a direct result of this the business secured a £6m, five-year export deal to China.

Lisa Tse, who co-founded the business with her sister Helen, says: “The Prime Minister said he could help us to promote our sauces to China and he kept his word, I could tell that being on such a visit really impressed our distributors and it showed us to be a credible, powerful British brand, serious about doing business in China.

“Exporting is crucial for a business to survive but it has its pitfalls. Thankfully, UKTI is on hand to answer questions, make introductions and create opportunities for us to promote ourselves globally.”

Kelly Hoppen says: “There are many great examples of women-led companies taking their skills and expertise to the world. Through the guide we aim to take the fear out of exporting and show that exploring new markets is not only financially rewarding but exciting.”

The guide is available now to view online

Export Week is organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to seek customers overseas with over 90 events across the UK and over 6,000 businesses expected to attend. There will also be over 130 export specialists from more than 70 countries.

This year there will be an emphasis on women-led businesses with women-focused events being held from Southport to Somerset and Burnley to Birmingham.

The most recent Small Business Survey in 2012 from BIS shows that 13% of women-led small and medium-sized businesses in the UK export compared with the national average of 19%. This gap represents an opportunity, and projections suggest that the UK could have up to an extra 10,000 exporters if these businesses grew and exported at the same rate as the average.

Trade Minister Lord Livingston says: “The number of women setting up businesses has doubled compared to a few years ago, but at the moment companies set up by women are consistently less likely to export. We have hugely increased the number of companies receiving Government export support but currently only one in ten of these firms are women-led.

“UK businesses can be great exporters, and Export Week is an excellent opportunity for us to do more to promote women-led firms.

“By offering dedicated events, support and our introductory guide, we will make UKTI’s services more engaging and accessible to female businesses and help create new exporters who can take Britain’s GREAT products and services to the world.”

On Sunday, UKTI announced that it had doubled its number of medium-sized business helped from 1,000 to 2,000 after Lord Livingston wrote to every medium-sized business in the country offering tailored trade advice and an intensive programme of UKTI support.

Export Week is running from 10 – 14 November. It is the sixth time UKTI has organised the week-long event to showcase the growth opportunities international markets can offer and the specific services UKTI can provide to help firms take advantage.

Jimmy’s Iced Coffee strikes ice cool deal with Boots

Jimmy’s Iced Coffee has secured another high profile listing for its two core products, as the Original and Skinny varieties will now be available in 180 Boots stores UK-wide.

Jimmy’s Iced Coffee started out in high-end outlets such as Selfridges and Whole Foods in 2011, and within a year this super refreshing drink had caught the attention of Waitrose and Ocado. Tesco Express followed shortly after, and now it can be found chilling in the food to go fridges of Boots stores - and purchased as part of the popular Boots Meal Deal.

Jim Cregan, the man behind the brand, says, “Boots and its famous Meal Deal have been on our wanted list for some time, so this listing spells exciting times for our brand. It’s been three years since I burst into a Whole Foods buyers’ meeting in an attempt to get this awesome drink the profile it deserves, and now we’re involved with some of the major multiples and have a ridiculous amount of exciting plans in the pipeline.”

CESA Innovation Zone puts caterers in touch with technology

CESA’s Innovation Zone makes a welcome return to the Hospitality Show and this year it’s bigger and better than ever. The event is at the NEC Birmingham from 19th to 21st January and, showcasing many of the latest innovations in catering equipment, visitors to the Zone will get hands-on experience of the technologies that will cool, cook, clean, manage waste, and process ingredients in commercial kitchens of the future.

CESA director Keith Warren says, “The Innovation Zone has become one of the top draws for the Show. Its popularity is all about being able to touch the technology, rather than just seeing it on the page or screen. A big focus will be sustainability.”

CESA will also use the Show to launch a series of carbon management podcasts. Developed jointly with CEDA, the FCSI and DECC, the podcasts are designed as training tools for the hospitality market. The first three cover refrigeration, dishwashers and cooking equipment and show how to minimise energy consumption.

Keith says, “The Carbon Trust estimates that better practices and more efficient equipment could save the foodservice industry £0.25 billion every year, or 30% of total energy use. These podcasts can help caterers reduce their costs significantly.”

The podcasts are part of the Save It! campaign, a collaboration between CESA, DEFRA, the BHA, CEDA and the FCSI, which aims to encourage good energy practice in the kitchen.

Visitors to the CESA stand can also find out about the Certified Food Service Professional scheme, the specialist qualification designed to give foodservice managers a better understanding of their industry. The latest group of CFSP graduates will receive their awards during the Show and the ‘Wall of Fame,’ listing all CFSP accredited personnel, will be on display in the main entrance to the exhibition hall.

Tulip Ltd enters British Charcuterie

Tulip Ltd has completed the purchase of Castellano's Charcuterie, the Bristol-based charcuterie business, from its owner Vincent Castellano. Founded by Vincent Castellano, who trained as a butcher, charcutier...

Simon Smith nets food entrepreneur of the year award

The Saucy Fish Co.’s Simon Smith has fought off tough competition to be named Best Food Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014 by Investec.

Simon scooped the prize at the inaugural awards after impressing the judging panel with his role in turning the brand into a global force since it first launched in 2010. The panel was made up of well-known food entrepreneurs including Wynne Griffiths and Luke Johnson.

The last 12 months in particular has seen The Saucy Fish Co. come of age and be recognised with some major achievements, including:

Becoming the first fish brand to appear on the prestigious CoolBrands® list alongside the likes of Apple, Aston Martin and Rolex

Winning a high profile interim injunction against Aldi over the launch of their Saucy Fish Fillets.

Global expansion into the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Switzerland

The last three months has seen particularly strong results for The Saucy Fish Co. with sales up 47.5% on the back of growth at Tesco, securing new listings at Waitrose and range expansions with the Co-Op and Ocado. In the same period there was a 64% increase in the number of shoppers buying The Saucy Fish Co. compared to this period in 2013.

This is part of a wider trend that has seen Saucy grow its share of branded chilled products over the last year by 3% to a total market share of 19.9%.

Shopper data has also shown that the brand is driving new people to the pre packed, chilled fish category. In the Co-Op 76% of people purchasing The Saucy Fish Co. in the last 12 weeks were new customers to the category, whilst in Waitrose the figure was 44%. This has resulted in 17% of growth for The Saucy Fish Co. coming from consumers who hadn’t previously bought from the category.

The Investec Food and Drink entrepreneur awards ceremony took place at the House of Commons where Simon beat a number of finalists to the award, including runner-up Charlie Bigham. The judges’ commented that “Simon showed boldness in seizing the territory of marketing fish - not always an easy product - in a fun, innovative and accessible way. Great growth in a short amount of time represents real focus and hard work.”

Simon Smith, Managing Director of Icelandic Seachill, said: “It was a great honour to be recognised by Investec. It’s been a great journey for The Saucy Fish Co. to see us stocked in most major supermarkets in the UK and expanding globally in just four years has been incredible.

“I’m fortunate to have a fantastic team who have helped Saucy to blaze a trail within the category, whilst staying true to our commitment to originality and quality.” Simon was recently appointed as Managing Director of Icelandic Seachill – the parent company of The Saucy Fish Co.

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