Following their work together at Sutcliffe catering - and a number of years successfully building their own individual catering operations – Alastair Storey and William Baxter brought together key names in the catering industry and decades of know-how to form BaxterStorey in 2004. The company now employs over 5500 dedicated staff over 500 sites, and the business sees an impressive turnover exceeding £205 million. William Baxter, deputy CEO of BaxterStorey talks Food Chain through its operations: “We provide staff restaurants, director’s dining rooms and hospitality for the business and industry sector. We enjoy operating in this sector and we are good at it. Essentially we work for large, well-known organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.” To illustrate, its client portfolio includes Barclays, ITV, Virgin Atlantic, Marks & Spencers and Unilever, to name just a few.
The multi-award winning company is known for its positive attitude towards the catering industry and its high quality standards. In the last year it has welcomed two more companies into the fold, adding to this proactive ethos, William explains: “We acquired Holroyd Howe and Benugo 11 months ago and we have been spending these months integrating the two companies into our business. The acquisition of Holroyd Howe was driven by two factors. The first was geographical reach; their strength in the North of England and Scotland enhanced our existing operation. Putting the two businesses together gave us a stronger regional network and this meant that the infrastructure enabled us to deliver an enhanced local service for our clients. Secondly and vitally for us, we had an existing relationship with Holroyd Howe’s management team. We knew them well, having worked alongside Nick Howe and Rick Holroyd in the past and as their operating philosophies and thoughts on fresh food were very compatible with our own. We knew that they and their business would make a complimentary fit with BaxterStorey.
“We bought Benugo because we could see how it could bring another vibrant offering to the BaxterStorey business. Their ability to bring their chic New York deli style restaurants into the workplace adds an exciting feature to our food service portfolio. Benugo is a fantastic brand that has a strong following, something that we admire and are determined to grow. It has continued as a separate business working alongside the BaxterStorey operation, where together we can offer clients a cutting edge dining solution. The guys who run Benugo are an interesting and creative team – we enjoy their fresh perspective and have welcomed their innovative approach with open arms.”
BaxterStorey’s dedication to the catering industry and its impressive performance throughout the country in staff restaurants, cafes, deli bars, fine dining and hospitality services, is a result of great staff and quality training. Driven by providing the highest quality food matched by the highest quality service, William explains BaxterStorey’s commitment to ensuring staff are trained to an equally high calibre and motivated to achieve the standards expected: “The example of our Chef Academy is a good one. We’re a food business and unless our chefs can deliver our food promise, then we’re never going to achieve our goals. The Academy’s purpose is to upskill, inspire and grow confidence across our chef brigade. Chefs are on the course for a year and study a range of kitchen management disciplines as well as being tutored in expert culinary skill. They get to experience external training, spending time in restaurants, French markets and visiting Padstow in Cornwall to spend time in the fishing market as well as other opportunities including learning alongside a two-Michelin star chef. We find that people get a lot out of the training which stretches from NVQ qualifications right up to a masters in culinary arts.”
BaxterStorey is the UK’s leading independent food service provider, though working on a large scale the company specialises in tailor-made services and individual provision. William outlines the strengths that have resulted in the company being market leader: “We believe we have some of the best people in the industry and certainly the most experienced board in the contract catering sector, all of whom have had at least 20 years experience in the industry. We have a greater concentration of operators per contract than our competitors - ensuring clients get more of our time. We have a lot of emphasis on putting skills back into the kitchen and building an excellent business wide team, keeping our staff motivated with comprehensive training in place across our entire business.
“With the current economic climate as we’re conscious that we have a duty to ensure we control costs and offer the most cost efficient service possible – customers want better value and reduced costs. Our way to deliver this is by offering fantastic food and service that 34drives the volume of sales up and if the margins are right, that in itself will reduce the catering subsidies for our customers – rather than streamlining, reducing labour and cutting training. We are not pre-occupied with financial results, we focus on being better caterers and this is our success - it sets us apart in the industry.”
So what does the future hold for BaxterStorey? “Having made two recent acquisitions, our plan is to batten down the hatches and concentrate on organic growth. There will be a lot of internal soul searching; trying to be a better business and making sure we do things well and efficiently for our clients. We have a great drive and passion and we want to grow the business at a rate where we can concentrate on quality and service. Long-term we want to be known as the company that sets the standards within our industry and we’re getting there. Our tag-line is that we love what we do, we are pleased with what we have achieved, but we still have more to do,” William concludes.