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Food wholesaler aiming for record sales at biggest ever trade fair

Food wholesaler aiming for record sales at biggest ever trade fair

28 February 2024
A fast-growing Welsh food wholesaler is forecasting record sales approaching £1 million when it stages its biggest ever annual two-day trade fair.

Harlech Foodservice’s Expo 24 at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru will see over 120 exhibitor stands and expects crowds of over 2,000 at the event on Wednesday and Thursday, March 6 and 7.

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The Expo is a highlight of the year for Harlech which will showcase the range of products it supplies to restaurants, cafes and even Premiership giants as well as to schools and hospitals, museums and art galleries.

The aim is to enable suppliers to talk directly to the customer, giving them a chance to tell the story behind their product to representatives from the tourism, leisure, education and health sectors across Wales, the North West and the Midlands.

Harlech will also unveil its latest Trust Our Prices range of deals for its customers with prices pegged from April on over 400 products, according to Head of Purchasing Josie Swift who is organising the event.

The company has also been buoyed by a £6 million expansion plan that will create 150 new jobs. Josie said: “We introduced Trust Our Prices last year, freezing prices on over 300 core products for the three months up to Christmas and New Year and it proved so popular we have done it again for January through March.

“Now we’re launching our third wave of Trust Our Prices and will be fixing our prices in June and it’s bigger than ever with over 400 products covering frozen, ambient food and non-food products.

“It means our customers in the hospitality and catering sectors can be confident that prices will remain pegged for the busy summer period.

“It means we’re saying to our customers in hospitality that they can go ahead and set their menus for the whole season because we can support you through those three months and their margins will remain the same.”

Harlech’s own stand will be at the heart of the event and will feature live cookery demonstrations and the chance to sample new products.

This year’s event, free to people in the trade but not open to the public, will be spread across two huge rooms at Venue Cymru and many of the stands will feature their own cookery demos as well as the chance to sample the products on show.

Exhibitors will include food giants like Kellogg’s, McCains, Young’s Seafood, Doritos, Cadbury’s, Wafflemeister and Hellman’s as well as nationally known Welsh brands such as Jones Village Bakery, Edwards the Welsh Butcher, Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy and Radnor Springs, from Knighton, in Mid Wales.

There will be a big presence from across the border as Harlech extend its reach into the North West and the Midlands and also from South Wales where the company has a distribution hub in Merthyr Tydfil and ambitions to grow. While food and drink are the main components of the event there will also be an increased presence for suppliers of cleaning, accountancy and other ancillary services.

Josie added: “We’re also very excited about our own brand Country Range and are keen to showcase it to our customers. It’s a core range for every food service business.

“This is a key time for them when they’re looking to set their menus for the year and we’re doing our best to help them do that with a wide core range at a strong price.

“We have compared our prices to the competition so we know we’ve got a really strong price and our customers know they can rely on that staying the same for three months.

“We’ve done all that hard work, including on allergens so if someone walks in with gluten intolerance you will know what’s in the product and if it’ "safe for them.”

Ysgol Gorlan

Anti Rhian y cogydd ysgol poblogaidd yn hongian ei ffedog ar ôl 35 mlynedd

29 Ionawr 2024
Mae cogyddes ysgol sydd wedi gweini dros hanner miliwn o brydau bwyd i genedlaethau o bobl ifanc mewn ysgol bentref yng Ngwynedd yn hongian ei ffedog ar ôl 35 mlynedd.

darllen mwy

Dechreuodd Rhian Parry, sy'n fam i dri o blant, weithio yn Ysgol y Gorlan, Tremadog, fel cogyddes wrth gefn dros dro ond wnaeth hi fyth adael, gan aros yn yr ysgol am flynyddoedd ond y mis hwn bydd yn gweini ei theisen gaws chwedlonol am y tro olaf.

Mae Rhian, o Borthmadog, sydd wedi gweithio o dan bedwar pennaeth yn yr ysgol newydd gael cydnabyddiaeth am ei gwasanaeth hir gan y cyfanwerthwr bwyd o Wynedd, Gwasanaethau Bwyd Harlech.

Cyflwynwyd potel o siampên, bocs o siocledi a thusw o flodau iddi gan Ursula Scurrah-Price, a fu unwaith yn ddisgybl yn yr ysgol ac sydd bellach yn Rheolwr Datblygu Busnes Harlech dros Iechyd, Gofal ac Addysg yng Ngwynedd. Dywedodd Anti Rhian, fel mae hi cannoedd o blant Tremadog wedi ei hadnabod: "Ro'n i'n gweithio yn y ffreutur mewn ysgol ym Mhorthmadog ac yn dod yma fel cogyddes wrth gefn oherwydd bod y cogydd yn mynd i'r ysbyty am fân lawdriniaeth ond dw i wedi bod yma byth ers hynny.

"Roeddwn i wastad wedi gweithio yn y maes arlwyo, mewn gwestai a chaffis, ac roedd yn swydd ddelfrydol i mi oherwydd bod gen i dri o blant ifanc.

"Rydyn ni wastad yn hoffi defnyddio cynnyrch lleol pryd bynnag y gallwn ac mi rydw i'n archebu bob wythnos ac wrth gwrs rydw i'n cofio Ursula pan oedd hi'n ddisgybl yma. Roedd hi'n ferch hyfryd a bob amser yn ymddwyn yn dda. "Rydw i'n archebu'r bwyd i mewn o Harlech bob wythnos, gan gynnwys y pizzas blasus sy'n un o ffefrynnau'r plant.

"Rydw i wedi mwynhau bod yma. Mae'n ysgol hyfryd ac mi rydach chi'n cael cyfarfod â phawb a hyd yn oed rwan mae pobl yn dod i fyny ata i ac yn fy ngalw i'n Anti Rhian."

Dilynodd un o blant Rhian yn ôl ei thraed a gweithio fel cogydd, ond mae Rhian wedi penderfynu mai dyma’r amser iawn i fynd a gallu treulio mwy o amser gyda'i hwyres ym Mae Penrhyn. Meddai Ursula: "Mae gen i atgofion melys o fy nghyfnod yma efo Anti Rhian, oedd wastad yn hyfryd i ni ac rwy'n mwynhau'r ffaith ein bod ni'n cyflenwi'r bwyd yma ac i holl ysgolion Gwynedd gan gynnwys Ysgol Eifionydd lle'r oeddwn i hefyd yn ddisgybl. "Rydym yn defnyddio cyflenwyr lleol lle bynnag y gallwn ac oherwydd ein bod wedi'n lleoli yng ngogledd Cymru, yn Llanystumdwy yma yng Ngwynedd yn ogystal â depo yng Nghaer, rydym mewn sefyllfa ddelfrydol i gyflenwi ysgolion ar draws y rhanbarth.

"Nid mater o gyflenwi yn unig ydi hyn, mae'n rhaid i ni hefyd edrych ar werth maethol yr hyn rydyn ni'n ei ddarparu oherwydd mae’n ymwneud â bwyta'n iach ac ar yr un pryd cadw'r plant â diddordeb yn yr hyn maen nhw'n ei fwyta.

"Does dim pwynt darparu bwyd maethlon nad ydi'r plant yn ei hoffi oherwydd wnawn nhw ddim ei fwyta, felly mae'n rhaid i ni sicrhau ei fod yn flasus hefyd oherwydd mae llawer o'r hyn a wnawn bellach, yn enwedig gydag ysgolion a gofal iechyd, yn ymwneud â budd amgylcheddol a chymdeithasol.

"Mae hynny'n ystyriaeth fawr i ni a dyma'r peth iawn i'w wneud, ac ar yr un pryd rydyn ni eisiau rhoi bwyd maethlon iddyn nhw y maen nhw eisiau ei fwyta. Felly lle bynnag rydyn ni’n gallu rydyn ni'n dod o hyd i fwyd sydd mor lleol â phosib fel bod yr arian sy'n cael ei wario yng Nghymru yn aros yng Nghymru."

Mae'r plant yn Ysgol y Gorlan yn sicr yn mwynhau eu cinio ysgol a dywedodd Erain Machin, 10 oed: "Mi fyddwn ni’n drist gweld Anti Rhian yn mynd. Mae'r bwyd yma'n dda iawn, yn enwedig ei theisen gaws.

"Ychwanegodd Gwern Pugh, 9 oed: "Dw i'n hoffi'r fflapjacs ni'n cael bob pythefnos neu dair wythnos a dw i'n hoffi'r cyri - mae Anti Rhian yn gogydd da iawn."

Dywedodd y cymhorthydd dosbarth Eleri Parry, sy’n gyn-ddisgybl arall: "Bydd hi'n drist pan fydd Rhian yn mynd. Mae hi wedi bod yn rhan fawr o'r ysgol a hi yw fy mam fedydd i hefyd ac mi fues i yn yr ysgol hefyd. "Ro'n i wastad yn hoffi ei chinio dydd Sul a'i theisen gaws oedd uchafbwynt wythnos pawb - rydych chi wastad yn gweld y staff yn ciwio pan mae’r deisen ar y fwydlen."

Ysgol Gorlan

Popular Auntie Rhian hangs up her apron after 35 years as school cook

29 January 2024
A school dinner lady who has served up over half a million meals to generations of youngsters at a Gwynedd village school is hanging up her apron after 35 years.

Mum of three Rhian Parry arrived at Ysgol Y Gorlan, in Tremadog, to cover for the school cook and never left but this month she will serve up her legendary cheesecake for the last time.

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Rhian, from Porthmadog, who has worked under four headteachers at the school has just had her long service recognised by Gwynedd-based food wholesaler Harlech Foodservice. She was presented with a bottle of bubbly, a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers by a familiar face, Ursula Scurrah-Price, once a pupil at the school and now Harlech’s Gwynedd Business Development Manager for Health, Care and Education.

Auntie Rhian, as she has been known to hundreds of Tremadog children, said: “I was working in the canteen at a school in Porthmadog and came here on relief because the cook was going into hospital for a minor operation and I’ve been here ever since.

“I had always worked in catering , in hotels and cafes, and it was ideal for me because I had three young children.

“We always like to use local produce whenever we can and I order every week and of course I remember Ursula when she was a pupil here. She was a lovely girl and always well-behaved.

“I order the food in from Harlech every week, including the pizzas which are very nice and they’re one of the children’s favourites.

“I’ve enjoyed being here. It’s a lovely school and you get to meet everyone and even now people come up to me and call me Auntie Rhian.”

One of Rhian’s children followed in her footsteps and worked as a chef but she has decided now is the right time to go and she can spend more time with her grand-daughter in Penrhyn Bay.

Ursula said: “I have fond memories of my time here and Auntie Rhian who was always lovely to us and I enjoy the fact that we supply the food here and to all the Gwynedd schools including Ysgol Eifionydd where I was also a pupil.

“We use local suppliers wherever possible and because we are based in North Wales at Llanystwmdwy here in Gwynedd and have a depot in Chester as well we are in an ideal position to supply schools across the region.

“It’s not just a question of delivering supplies, we also have to look at the nutritional value of what we provide because this is about healthy eating and at the same time keeping the children interested in what they’re eating.

“It’s no good providing nutritious food that they don’t like because they just won’t eat it so we have to make sure it is tasty as well because much of what we do now, particularly with schools and healthcare is about environmental and social benefit.

“That’s a big consideration for us and it’s the right thing to do and at the same time we want to give them nutritious food they want to eat and wherever possible we source that food as locally possible so that the money spent stays in Wales.”

The children at Ysgol Y Gorlan certainly enjoy their school dinners and Erain Machin, 10, said: “We will be sad to see Auntie Rhian go. The food here is really, really nice, especially her cheesecake.

“Gwern Pugh, nine, added: “I like the flapjacks we get every two or three weeks and I like the curry – Auntie Rhian is a very good cook.”

Classroom assistant Eleri Parry, another former pupil, said: “It will be sad when Rhian goes. She’s been a big part of the school and she’s my godmother as well and I came to the school.

“I always liked her Sunday lunch and her cheesecake is the highlight of everyone’s week – you always see the staff lining up when it’s on the menu.”

Harlech Foodservices delivers to schools across North Wales with major contracts with Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham as well as Gwynedd and during last year’s summer holidays they also supplied food for out-of-term activities at schools across North Wales, including Anglesey. Harlech operate from bases at Criccieth, in Gwynedd, Chester and Merthyr Tydfil and between the three locations, the company employs around 200 staff and runs a fleet of vehicles to deliver up to 5,000 product lines to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers across Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West.

Welsh food distribution firm with appetite for growth will create 150 jobs with £6m investment

28 November 2023
A £6 million expansion at a fast-growing food distribution company will create 150 new jobs in a major boost to the economy of rural Gwynedd. News of the investment was revealed during a visit to Harlech Foodservice by Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and her Senedd counterpart, Mabon ap Gwynfor.

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They were given a briefing and a guided tour of the firm’s headquarters site near Cricieth by Managing Director David Cattrall and Joint Chairman Andrew Foskett.

Over the past three year sales have increased from £32 million to a record turnover of around £50 million, with profit at an all-time high of more than £2 million in the current year.

One of the major reasons for the growth was a change of strategy which has seen Harlech Foodservice win a raft of public sector contracts in health and education, in addition to its core customer base in tourism and hospitality.

As well as expanding into the North West and the Midlands, the company has also opened a new depot in Merthyr Tydfil to cater for new clients in South Wales.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Harlech Foodservice is one of the most important anchor companies here in Gwynedd.

“Everyone knows the brand. They employ a large number of people, so they are of great importance not only to the economy in this area but also important to Wales as a whole because they distribute food throughout the country.

“The investment that’s going into the site is incredibly positive news because it shows growth, progress and confidence, not only in this wonderful business but also in the workforce.

“It’s clear to me that the people who work here are committed and appreciate that they’re working for a company which treats them well and they provide salaries that enable people, including young families, to live in their own area.”

Equally delighted was Liz Saville-Roberts who was familiar with Harlech Foodservice even before she became the local MP eight years ago.

She used to visit the company in her previous role as a lecturer at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor in Dolgellau and several of her former students are employed there, including Head of Operations Ian Evans.

Ms Saville Roberts said: “I am delighted that so many local people are employed here and that the reach of Harlech Foodservice is growing, reaching across North Wales down into South Wales and across into the North West and the Midlands.

“The fact there is so much investment going into this site will give them the potential to grow and create more employment, making the business secure on this site.

“I’m proud to do anything I can to help them because companies like Harlech Foodservice are the backbone of the economy in rural counties like Gwynedd.

“There’s been a decline in public sector employment in this area so it’s good to see quality private sector employment, with decent wages, decent career opportunities and security of employment.

“I know that the people who work here, stay here which is one of the real signs that the staff are happy in their work.”

Earlier this year the family firm increased the capacity of its giant freezer by 25% after reconfiguring the racking with narrower aisles and adding an extra row.

As part of the plan the company also bought “bendy” forklift trucks that can navigate the tighter spaces.

The new investment will see processing and warehouse capacity almost doubling in the next five years.

Managing director David Cattrall said: “We have squeezed as much space as we possibly can out of the existing facilities and what we now need to do is make the site bigger as part of our next phase of expansion.

“We’re expecting our turnover to double to around £100 million over the next five years and we’re building with that in mind.

“The expansion will happen over three phases costing a total of around £6 million – we will be gaining an extra 80 per cent in processing and storage capacity so it’s going to be a gamechanger for us.

“It’s going to enable us to reach farther afield in the whole of Wales go out into the Midlands and North West England, from our home base in Gwynedd.

“We’re having a record year for sales in the company’s history and a record year for profit even though we are reinvesting heavily in making the business fit for the future and making sure our prices are aggressively competitive.”

Joint chairman Andrew Foskett added: “This investment is a major vote of confidence in this site and wider Gwynedd. We’re a family-owned business and we are keen for the heart of the operation to remain located in this area.

“The upshot is that we’ll be creating 100 jobs at our headquarters site and 50 jobs elsewhere over the next three to five years.

“We’ve all had a tough time through the pandemic but these are really exciting times for Harlech Foodservice.

“The level of investment we’re putting in is unprecedented but it is absolutely essential so that we can continue growing and play our part in boosting the local economy.”

 Remembrance Day Poppy on its lorries

Top food company proudly displays Remembrance Day Poppy on its lorries

8 November 2023
A top food wholesaler that employs ex-service personnel is on a special mission to support the annual Poppy Appeal.

Harlech Foodservice are displaying the emblem of the Royal British Legion’s annual appeal on over 40 lorries of their distribution fleet which delivers across Wales, the North West and the Border Counties.

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The company, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, is also signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant at a special ceremony at Caernarfon Castle on Thursday, November 30.

It’s a special commitment which means a lot to former Welsh Guardsman Daniel Jones, from Llanystumdwy, who spent 14 years with the regiment including two tours of duty in Afghanistan where he lost several comrades.

Daniel, 35, who grew up in Porthmadog. Is now a night warehouse manager at the company headquarters near Cricieth, and he said: “It’s really good to see people supporting the Poppy Appeal because it seemed to have dropped off but that pride in our armed forces is coming back.

“I did two tours in Afghanistan and we lost a few comrades including our commanding officer as well as many who were injured but people can sometimes forget about the ones we lose afterwards.

“What you don’t always see on the ones who come home are the internal issues because it’s not just about the ones who passed away. It’s also about the ones who are still suffering.”

Warehouse manager Neil Williams, 49, who lives in Abersoch served with the Gloucestershire Regiment, known as the Glosters and one of the oldest in the British Army.

He said: “It’s great to see the company supporting the Poppy Appeal. It’s something that’s important not just to ex-servicemen like us but to everyone.

“It’s important to remember the sacrifices made and to provide support to those who have served their country and their families.”

Former Army Lance-Corporal Mark Keats, from Oswestry, a Key Account Manager for the company, said: “I’m delighted Harlech have joined the other businesses across the country who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant.

“It will be a proud day for the company when we formally sign at Caernarfon Castle this month.

“When you join up you sign the Oath of Allegiance and in return the country pledges to look after you so you have that reassurance when you become a member of the Armed Forces.

“There are two main principals – that ex-servicemen won’t be discriminated against for employment or housing and that there should be special consideration for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.

“It shows that as a company Harlech recognise the immense contribution service personnel have made for us as a country and that we recognise the value of ex-service personnel as employees.

“These are people who have pledged to put their lives on the line for our country and in return we as society owe them something in return and companies of all sizes have acknowledged this by signing the Covenant and I’m very grateful to Harlech for adding their name to that list.”