29 March 2021
We are delighted to have added personal protective equipment (PPE) to our range, and be an accredited supplier, having clinched a share of a Welsh Government contract to supply care homes with protective equipment and cleaning materials.
Our Commercial Director Mark Lawton said: “This does represent a diversification for us but it makes very good sense because we already supply lots of care homes and care organisations with a range of food.
“We have now added PPE and a range of cleaning materials to the menu of products we provide and it makes good sense for a care home to deal with one supplier rather than several. We can guarantee security of supply which is absolutely vital, especially when care home staff are guarding their vulnerable residents’ lives against Covid. It’s also important that they know their supplier’s products are subject to stringent testing and has the correct certification as a recognised supplier.”
Among the increasing number of care organisations we supply is the Pendine Park which employs over 800 staff at homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon. It is headed by Mario Kreft MBE, who is also chairman of Care Forum Wales which represents over 500 private care organisations across Wales.
Pendine Park Safety Officer Kevin Jones said: “We’re delighted with the service we get from Harlech because they provide us with what we need when we need it. This is literally a matter of life and death for us, not just for our clients but also for the carers and for the wider community because most of our staff are on the care side. We see ourselves as a part of that community because it’s not just about our employees but also about their families and friends and the wider public and we have a duty to keep them all safe.”
Mark Lawton added: “We are a North Wales company and very much part of the local community and we also offer a bilingual service which is important in an area like this so that orders can be taken in Welsh. Winning a contract like this enables us to provide vital employment at a time when the pandemic is having a drastic effect and it helps to ensure that some of the most vulnerable in society and their dedicated carers are being well looked after.”
15 March 2021
Here at Harlech Foodservice we understand that Mental Health is a huge part of wellbeing and it’s crucial our employees have a support mechanism available to them. Having invested in employees on site, three of our colleagues have recently completed the Adult Mental Health First Aid (Wales) Course enabling safe, confidential on or off-site support across the business. Pictured are Katie Benton-Hughes and Mags Evans who kindly volunteered to step up and complete the course to help others.
15 February 2021
A food company has hired a team of head-hunters to recruit six key staff to turbo-charge ambitious expansion plans.
Harlech Foodservice, based in Criccieth and Chester, wants to strengthen the management team, to increase turnover to more than £50 million over the next three years.
Part of the strategy includes finding bigger premises in the Chester area as a staging post for further growth in the North West. Managing director David Cattrall wants the new members of the team to be in place in readiness for when the tourism and hospitality industry starts to reopen when Covid lockdown restrictions are eased.
When that happens Harlech plans to start delivering seven days a week with the introduction of a new Sunday service.
Mr Cattrall, who previously worked in a high-powered role with Booker Wholesale, has embarked on a major restructuring of the company since he was appointed last year.
He said the introduction of “transparent and competitive” pricing on a range of core products had proved popular.
Meanwhile, online sales quadrupled after the website was upgraded and a new app was launched, allied to extending the order window to 10pm. According to Mr Cattrall, the quintet of new appointments were the next step on the journey to drive up turnover and profits.
Among the personnel they want to recruit are a head of purchasing based in Chester, a key account manager for health, care and education, operation managers for the warehouse and butchery in Criccieth, along with a new shift manager for the butchery.
Mr Cattrall said: “To support our growth we have appointed Zachary Daniels Recruitment because it is vitally important that we find the right people for these key roles.
"It might appear counter-intuitive to be recruiting people in the middle of a pandemic but we are essentially investing in future expansion.
“We may not have the same pattern initially but I'm expecting Spring/Summer to probably give us our 2019 business back and provide a springboard for growth.
“We want to continue to look after our customers in our North Wales heartland who helped create Harlech Foodservice.
“We have also seen strong growth in the North West of England and North East Wales through companies like Hickory’s Smokehouse, Frederic Robinson pubs and Denbighshire schools.
“As a result, we are currently looking to add a new full service depot in that area as our Gwynedd base is approaching capacity.
“It’s come about because of our improved core range, transparent and competitive prices, backed up by providing exceptional service.
“We have been working hard through lockdown to ensure we offer an excellent choice of quality products that meet our customer requirements.
“Our core range has an excellent choice of own-label Fairway products and well known foodservice brands.
“For example, in 2019 we introduced Brongain Farm beef to our butchery offer. Based in the heart of mid Wales. it produces up to 1,000 grass and grain fed Aberdeen Angus cattle a year.
“Developing a sustainable system of beef production is one of their top priorities and this is why they have established Brongain Farm as a research unit and a centre of excellence.
“Following the growth in our care home business we have strengthened our range of specialist meals for our clients in the social care sector, including ones for people who have difficulty swallowing.
“We now benchmark against national foodservice companies to ensure we always offer great value to our customers.“We have also introduced ‘Save by the Case’ so customers can get better prices when buying a whole case of our best-selling lines.
“This year we are introducing a new quality assurance policy. For example, scooping ice cream is a massive sector for Harlech and our customers told us they want certainty their fragile cones arrive unbroken.
“In March we will launch Quality Assurance for Cones with a no quibble guarantee to replace cases for free within 24 hours.“We asked our customers how we could improve our service even further and the biggest request was for Sunday deliveries during the Spring/Summer season.
“We currently provide deliveries six days a week and from April to September we will be offering a Sunday service to our busiest customers to help them manage their busy and unpredictable weekends.
“I am confident there is a lot of pent up demand out there and, with the help of our new high level recruits, we are going to be ready, willing and able to meet that demand so we can fulfil our ambition to be a £50 million company.”
Nutritional information on over 20,000 foodservice product lines. Click image to view video
While the new legislation aims to help consumers and the general public gain a better understanding of the content of the food that they eat; we understand that it is a challenge for businesses throughout the catering and foodservice industry to meet the requirements. Erudus provides caterers with comprehensive nutritional breakdowns, dietary advice and allergen information on over 20,000 products that caterers are purchasing through one data source. It aims to make it easier for caterers to access the information they will need to provide to their customers. Great news for Harlech customers; we are able to offer you this data source completely FREE of charge, email [email protected] for more information and get you started.
5 February 2021
A North Wales food wholesaler is ramping up aid to struggling families with three mercy missions a week.
Harlech Foodservice have sent 10 truckloads of supplies worth £60,000, including bread, eggs and dairy products and even salmon and steak.
Their latest drops to food banks across North Wales and in Cheshire and Shropshire include 180 boxes of bread, over 10,000 eggs, 79 trays of yoghurts and 98 catering-size cooking sauces as well as bread roll and sponge cake mix.
If it’s not quite feeding the 5,000, it’s not far short after the expanding company, whose customers include schools, pubs, restaurants and care homes, was left with a warehouse full of fresh, frozen, chilled, tinned and non-perishable goods at their headquarters near Criccieth.
Ten of the company’s fleet of delivery trucks are now busy keeping food banks stocked up including at Pwllheli, Colwyn Bay, Northwich and Winsford in Cheshire and Telford and Newport in Shropshire.
Harlech’s Digital Project Manager Ceri Brown works with the team to coordinate the supply chain and she said: “Lockdowns have of course resulted in excess stock with last minute Government decisions resulting in additional wasted stock bought in to satisfy school contracts.
“We had to be prepared for the new school term in January but of course when schools were closed we were left with a huge amount of food which we needed to use.
“We are working closely with some incredible organisations to help people hit hardest by the pandemic and we wanted to share it out across our area of operation.
“As the lockdowns continue, it’s a real struggle for our purchasing team managing stock levels, ensuring we have enough stock to meet demand for those customers that are open, but not over buying.”
Among those they supply is the Telford Food Share Project in Shropshire where project founder Lea Beven said: “We’re really grateful to Harlech who make such a huge contribution to our efforts.
“We are subsidising between 100 and 200 families a day. Not all of them are in absolute crisis but many are struggling and would not be able to make ends meet without us.
“Without us the town just wouldn’t manage. It’s been absolutely vital that we are here because there’s no let up at all now that we are in the middle of winter.”
Over the last two weeks Harlech Foodservice have delivered eight trucks of food to various food projects across North Wales, the North West and Shropshire as the lockdown restrictions continue to have a huge impact across wholesale businesses. Last minute decisions from the Government surrounding the re opening of schools meant stock had already been bought in to satisfy contracts, only for schools not to be permitted to reopen.
Work continues with the foodbanks, such as Food Share UK and Cheshire Food Hub, who undertake some really incredible work in their communities and it’s crucial this work is supported and continues to help those in need.
11 January 2021
A local business has made a generous food bank donation to a Northwich food hub.
Taking inspiration from footballer Marcus Rashford, Harlech Foodservices, a wholesaler with a base in Chester, dropped off a haul of provisions at the Cheshire Food Hub in Northwich.
The Food Hub serves food banks across the county from Chester to Macclesfield.
The donation included 80 bumper boxes of 96 Weetabix, enough for several thousands of breakfasts, 63 packets of Chilli Con Carne sauce, over £200 worth of bread roll mix, hot chocolate, and other non-perishable items.
Last month, CheshireLive reported that reliance on food banks had soared across Cheshire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jo Garner, of the charity Changing Lives Together, which co-ordinates the Food Hub, said: "We're really grateful to Harlech because we realised there was going to be a huge demand for food banks across the county.
"During the summer we were feeding about 5,000 children with food boxes, mainly in Cheshire West but we've now moved to a bigger long-term base in Northwich which means we can look to buy in bulk and take donations of food from many sources.
"We can then ship it out to food banks from Chester in the west to Macclesfield in the east of the county and altogether we supply over 20 food banks in the sort of quantities they can use.
"It is quite a logistical exercise and we are looking for more vehicles before for the fleet of vans we run because demand is growing at a faster rate than we had expected.
"We're now packing the Christmas boxes and we plan to do between two and three thousand of them while pin-pointing those who are in most desperate need so we can ship them out in the week before Christmas.
"That's where items like Weetabix family packs donated by Harlech will be going."
The delivery was organised by Ceri Brown, Harlech Foodservices Digital Project Manager, who said: "We have often donated to food banks but with the pandemic the need is so great and inspired by Marcus Rashford we wanted to do more.
"The effect of the recent lockdown was to leave us with plenty of stock so we have made arrangements and delivered to the Cheshire Food Hub at Northwich.
"There they were providing 1,000 Christmas boxes but with lockdown in England, that has now gone up to 10,000 and with our new depot in Chester we are hoping to help out a lot more in that area.
"We'd like to work with more food banks across our area of operation across North and Mid Wales and into Shropshire and the North West but we feel this was a good start and maintains our relationship with these three.
"But it is an ongoing project because a lot of people out there are facing really tough times and we'd like to carry on doing our bit to help them."
Jo Garner added: "The idea of the food hub is that we take the pressure off the individual food banks who are busy enough without having to manage deliveries from various sources so instead we can co-ordinate them from here.
"But things are starting to go through the roof now with the number of referrals to food banks twice as high in November as they were in October so the plan is for us to supplement the food they already have.
"We can act as storage for them and I see myself as the facilitator making sure the supplies get out to the food banks who are on the front line.
"We can identify things that have a short shelf life and get them out as quickly as possible and if things are going to waste then we can pass them on quickly.
"At the same time we are trying to carry out a survey to find how many people the food banks are supporting and how they have arrived there because these food banks are all run by volunteers and they are exhausted."
Jo volunteered herself because she wanted to help out in rural areas where there is an often unseen need for food banks.
She said: "Changing Lives Together is good at logistics and the food has to come in and then it's got to go out.
"That's especially true as next year look as if it's going to be catastrophic.
"It was busy in April but it's going through the roof now.
"It's not just about Christmas, it's about January and beyond. It's going to be critical because there's a huge upsurge in the numbers of people coming into food banks."
25 November 2020
Welsh beef is on the menu for pupils across Denbighshire now a leading North Wales food distribution company has won the contract to supply over a million school meals a year for the county.
Harlech Foodservice won the three-year contract from a US-owned multi-national and have pledged that wherever possible the county’s seven secondary and 48 primary schools will receive food sourced in North Wales.
Harlech commercial director Mark Lawton said: “This is a hugely important contract for us to win against competition from one of the biggest wholesalers in the UK. “It shows we have the quality and the capacity to supply and deliver high quality food, including beef sourced from farms in North and Mid Wales, for well over a million meals a year. .
“Pupils in Denbighshire eat 7,500 meals a day and each week the head cooks in each of the 55 schools in Denbighshire place their orders for some 35,000 meals and we have the capacity to guarantee delivery for that through our fleet of lorries and vans. “It extends the service we provide for schools in North Wales where we already supply similar numbers of school meals for Gwynedd and Conwy which makes for over 100,000 school meals a month.” .
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “We’re very pleased to have been able to award this contract to a North Wales company because it is important that we support the regional economy wherever possible. “Ensuring pupils at Denbighshire schools get healthy, varied and nutritious meals to improve learning and development is a priority for the council and this partnership helps ensure our School Meals Service can provide that. .
“We know that the majority of their meat comes from their own farms and is prepared by their own butchers and that is another box we can tick. “The contract has started and is going very well and Harlech have gone out of their way to adapt their systems to match with ours and it’s good to know there is always someone on the end of the phone we can speak to. “All the schools operate the same menu for the week and Harlech have that as well but it is still the head cook who orders for each school.” Ysgol Brynhyfryd head cook Louise Roberts places her orders twice a week and she said: “It works really well and the people we deal with at Harlech are very friendly and helpful.” Harlech Foodservices bid for the contract through their membership of TUCO – The University Caterers Organisation – a framework which qualifies businesses to provide catering services for the public sector. .
They have bases at Criccieth, Gwynedd, and Chester and between the two locations, the company employs around 200 staff. Mark Lawton added: “We are a North Wales company and we believe it is important that we supply schools in North Wales with food from North Wales to support the local community and we also offer a bilingual service which is important in an area like this so that orders can be taken in Welsh. “Winning a contract like this enables us to provide vital employment at a time when the pandemic is having a drastic effect on the hospitality trade.” .
7 October 2020
A food distribution company has clinched a £3.5 million a year deal to supply fast-growing US-style BBQ restaurant chain Hickory’s Smokehouse with a sizzling selection of beef, pork and chicken.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of news that Harlech Foodservice, based in Criccieth, in Gwynedd, and Chester, had created 16 new jobs after achieving record sales over the summer.
Hickory’s, who have 11 outlets including their newest right on the River Severn at Shrewsbury, have successfully brought the taste of America’s Deep South to diners from Southport to Worcester.
Harlech Foodservice are now helping them do that by delivering the meat for their burgers, pork ribs, chicken wings, butt steaks and brisket, including over a ton of beef every month.
Since lockdown ended in July, 1,000 diners have celebrated Saturdays at each of the Hickory’s restaurants.
The company opened their first restaurant alongside the River Dee at Chester in 2010 and who now employ 871 staff, 70 of them at Shrewsbury, including 363 trained BBQ chefs.
Appropriately, they re-opened on the Fourth of July, American Independence Day, and the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out also gave them a boost and so has the style of their premises, according to Executive Chef Director Rob Bacon, who helped set up Hickory’s in Chester 10 years ago.
He said: “We have been looking for a supplier to help us grow the business and Harlech Foodservices have been on our radar for a while and they fitted the bill because we need the right quality of meat and Harlech can supply that.
“They can also take orders late at night and it will be here at our restaurant, whether it’s in Southport, Worcester or Rhos on Sea, at 10am the next morning with the right product at the right quality.
“We cook our beef brisket for 14 hours in the smoker so the beef needs to be grain-fed rather than grass-fed because the meat will stay moist and tender rather than drying out.”
Mark Lawton, Commercial Director of Harlech Foodservice, said: “Hickory’s are a fantastic brand and they’ve done a lot of work to get their offer just right and it’s paying off for them.
“Part of that is making sure they have the right meat when and where they need it and we have the capacity to guarantee that. We’ve got the size and scale to deliver six days a week and cater for late ordering using our online ordering and app.
“They have struck a chord with their customers and that’s shown by their success but they don’t compromise on quality and their approach to doing what they do is very thorough and professional.”
Rob Bacon, a trained chef who spent years in high end restaurants in North Wales and the North West including St David’s Park Hotel in Ewloe, added: “We have done a lot of research and made many visits to America and spoken to their top pitmasters, the best BBQ chefs in the world.
“They’ve been really helpful, especially when they realised we were from the UK, and given us plenty of advice on how to make this a really authentic experience.
“We cook just about everything on the premises and we even make our own coleslaw and we have our own secret Magic Dust we have developed to sprinkle on our meat.
“I know when we opened our first restaurant 10 years ago we were expecting about 70 or 80 covers but we had over 300 and had to shut the restaurant early because we’d run out of food and the same thing happened the next night.
“This year we actually locked down before the Government announcement but we kept our staff busy and we maintained our involvement with the local community which is very important to us.
“We’ve raised over £190,000 for the Cash for Kids charity and provided meals for vulnerable families from our restaurants in Chester and Poynton which has kept out teams involved during lockdown.
“But if you had wanted to design a restaurant best suited to the current crisis then ours pretty much fit the bill – they are large and spacious and they all have outdoor areas.
“So a lot has gone for us but we have also taken the anti-covid measures very seriously so that we have closed the kids’ cinemas we have in every restaurant and observed all the regulations and recommendations to keep our staff and customers safe.”
For more on Hickory’s go to hickorys.co.uk
15 September 2020
A food distribution company has created 16 jobs after achieving record sales over the summer with demand for burgers going through the roof.
Harlech Food Service, based in Criccieth and Chester, say easier online purchasing, fixed pricing with competitive prices on key lines and the UK Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme all played a part in the increase.
Overall, turnover by the end of August was 4.7 per cent higher than last year while there was a meaty 385 per cent growth in demand for burgers with 130,000 of them being sold.
At the same time there was a dramatic increase in online ordering via the company’s website and app – up from 15 per cent to 44 per cent of the overall total.
According to Harlech Foodservice, customers who order digitally spend £74 more on average than when they buy by calling the telesales team.
The good news was announced by new managing director David Cattrall who is aiming to add another £20 million to the turnover over the next five years.
The reversal of fortune is dramatic after the company suffered a massive drop in business earlier this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Cattrall, who is approaching his first 100 days in charge, said: “By the end of the school holidays we saw sales exceeding last year by 4.7 per cent.
“We knew it would be a difficult time for our customers to predict sales and what they need to order and most would incur additional costs ensuring they complied with social distancing guidelines, so we asked ourselves how we could help our customers.
“Whilst many other suppliers chose to reduce services to cut their own costs we decided to support our customers through this unpredictable period by improving our service.
“We introduced fixed and transparent pricing – which is unusual in our sector - so customers could browse our entire range without having to contact their sales rep.
“Something else that has gone down well was out decision to reduce the prices on key lines for our customers, for example 5kg of 7-8oz chicken fillets are now just £19.99.
“We also increased the delivery service to all our customers, offering every day Monday to Saturday, as well as introducing later order times so all customers can now order up to 10pm via our website and app. This allows chefs to place orders after evening service.
“Our customers really bought into our digital platforms - we saw a massive increase from just 15 per cent of customers buying via web or app pre- Covid to 44 per cent by the end August.
“Customers really like our later cut off time with half of all orders placed between 8pm and 10pm - a service we didn’t offer pre-Covid. It’s completely changed how we work.”
Head of sales Chris Gregson said: “We have been blown away by the customer transition to our web and app. Chefs keep telling me how much easier it is to order after service when they know what they need, full of confidence they will receive their Harlech delivery the following day.
“What has surprised us is how much more customers are ordering digitally. They spent on average £74 more using our web or app compared to telesales. Our customers tell us they find it easier to browse our range and compare prices.
“We have seen the biggest take up in our Bwydlyn butchery and had to recruit butchers to cope with demand. For example our popular 6oz Gourmet Steak burger is made fresh by our butchers each day – in August our butchers made a record breaking 130,000 fresh burgers. That really is some going.”
Mr Cattrall added: “Just a few weeks ago we thought we might have to consider warehouse redundancies.
“However, we have now had to recruit additional drivers, warehouse operatives and butchers to cope with demand - in all we have employed an additional 16 people on permanent, full time contracts in our Criccieth and Chester distribution centres. “Whilst sales will slow with Eat Out To Help Out ending, we expect sales to continue above last year.”
Nick Burns, Food Development Manager for Robinsons Brewery, is delighted with the improved service and better pricing structure.
He said: “It has been an extremely difficult and challenging time for hospitality with many suppliers struggling to turn back on foodservice manufacturing to cope with the Eat Out to Help Out demand in August.
“Harlech Foodservice deliver to all our managed estate across North Wales & NW England and have been excellent. They quickly put in place systems and processes ensuring that we received good availability so that we could look after our own customers. We value the care and adaptability of a regional business like Harlech.”
14 August 2020
David Cattrall, 49, a former pupil of Ysgol Friars, in Bangor, is already looking beyond the coronavirus crisis after being appointed managing director at distribution company Harlech Foodservice which has its HQ in Criccieth, and a base in Chester.
He has high hopes for growth and is aiming to add another £20 million to the turnover over the next five years.
The secret, he says, will be concentrating on what customers want with fixed, transparent and competitive pricing on a core range of products, making it simpler to search and order online and strengthening the “exceptional customer service” already provided by the team.
After being brought up in Liverpool and North Wales, he rejected the idea of going to university in favour of a career in retail.
He was offered a trainee manager’s job at Flintshire-based Iceland after working weekends for them and earning extra pocket money while in school.
It was the first rung on the corporate ladder which saw a meteoric rise, including roles with Marks and Spencer and Booker Wholesale with whom he ended up as sales director of their catering division where turnover was measured in billions.
Mr Cattrall, who lives in Beddgelert, has known the Foskett family who own Harlech Foodservice for a number of years and more recently did some consultancy work for them.
Then in January of this year he was appointed as a non-executive director with a view to him becoming MD at the end of 2020 but Covid-19 has accelerated the process.
As a company whose business revolves around the hospitality industry, the pandemic saw a massive drop in orders – something that has resulted in the painful decision to consult over the expected loss of 16 jobs.
The challenge now, according to Mr Cattrall, is to restructure the business so that it is well placed to prosper in the post-pandemic world, with the North West and Midlands being targeted as growth areas.
He said: “Our aim is to change the focus of the business to allow us to grow. The current crisis is forcing us to adapt and we are aiming to make changes with the future in mind.
“One important thing we are introducing is transparent, fixed pricing for our all customers, rather than the norm in the industry of inflated list prices that require negotiating line by line. For example, at Harlech Foodservice 5kg of chicken fillets is now £19.99 for every customer.
“We want to make it much easier for people to buy from us so we’ll move to a modern website and app to enable customers to search more easily, just like Amazon, so you can compare range, price and product information and make an instant decision.
“Also, our customers work at very different hours. So again, if they want to place an order after service or build up a basket during the day, it’s easy to do that in the digital world.
“We’re extending our order window until 10pm for next day delivery when ordering via digital means. However, we still offer a telesales service for those customers that prefer the personal touch.
“We’re very strong in North Wales and we want to continue to expand further and faster in the North West of England and the Midlands. There is also scope to grow our business in the education and healthcare sectors.
“At the moment we’re a £33 million pound business and we hope to grow to at least £50 million over the next five years.
“My job is to make Harlech simpler so that we do the important things well – sourcing at a good price so we can provide our customers with competitive prices on their core range of products.
“In the short term, we’re trying to be optimistic around what happens to the business. We have seen some foodservice companies raise prices just when the hospitality sector needs help and support. We have done the opposite and invested in staples like oil, chicken, milk and chips.”
Director Andrew Foskett, who was previously joint managing director with brother Jonathan, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to appoint David to take Harlech Foodservice to the next level.
“Current circumstances have dictated that he has taken the reins sooner than we originally envisaged but David is the right person to help us navigate this difficult period and lay the foundations for the future.
“He has a hugely successful track record in the food industry and his vast experience and drive will help us grow, develop and prosper as a business.”
6 March 2020
RECORD breaking deals of almost £500,000 were secured at a high-profile two-day trade expo led by a growing food distribution firm.
Pictured, from left to right, are Andrew, Laura and Jonathan Foskett of Harlech Foodservice.
The Harlech Foodservice Food and Drink Expo 2020, now in its 42nd year, welcomed almost 2,000 visitors to the event in Venue Cymru, Llandudno which saw around 165 UK-wide suppliers showcase their produce.
Sales generated by the event were up by more than 30 per cent from close to £350,000 in 2019 to almost £460,000 in 2020. There were an additional 30 new businesses showcasing their produce this year.
The expo aims to allow Harlech Foodservice suppliers to talk directly to the customer, giving them a chance to tell the story behind their product and offer free taster to representatives from the leisure, education and health industries across Britain.
Andrew Foskett is Joint Managing Director of Harlech Foodservice which has its headquarters in in Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth, Gwynedd. The firm, which has a satellite base in Chester, employs around 200 people, and was founded by his mother and father, Colin and Gill.
Andrew, who runs the firm with his brother Jonathan and sister Laura, said: “The event just keeps on getting bigger and bigger every year and we had people queuing up outside before the doors opened.
“Visitors were just so keen to get in because there is a lot to see and some great deals to be had.
“There are many benefits to both our customers and our suppliers. The customers are able to come and see, taste and feel the products for themselves and there’s no substitute for that.
“They have a chance to talk to the supplier and find out more about the story behind the particular product, which can be very important, and find out how best it can be used.
“It helps them to find out the latest food trends and to stay on top of the changing patterns in the industry. We have suppliers here specialising in vegan produce, allergen free products, and other things which our customers need to be aware of and thinking about all the time if they want to stay on top of their game.
“It’s a really important event for all concerned and we are proud to be at the fore of driving it forward.”
Global giants such as Heinz and Unilever were present at the event along with a whole host of varying size businesses including Seabrook crisps, Fentimans and Deli France.
At the heart of the event is Welsh Street, created by Harlech Foodservice to champion the wealth of quality food being produced across the country and particularly in the North Wales region.
As part of this, Harlech Foodservice had its new range of Brongain Farm Welsh beef products which have just secured European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.
It is a new partnership struck up with the Pickstock family and their 680-acre farm, in Llanfechain, Powys, which sees Harlech Foodservice selling top quality steaks, roasting joints, diced beef and mince under the Brongain Farm brand.
Laura Jones, Marketing Manager for Edwards of Conwy, was manning a stall on Welsh Street, giving out free tasters for the butchery firm which is famous for its top quality sausages, burgers and other meat products.
Founded by Master Butcher, Ieuan Edwards, who was one of three sons born on a family farm in Llanrwst, the company has gone from a one-shop operation on Conwy high street to a thriving meat production business supplying major supermarkets, wholesale and foodservice firms. It has always stood steadfastly by its belief of supplying the best quality product which customers will come back for ‘again and again’, no matter how large the food production operation.
Laura said: “The expo is great because it gives us the face to face contact to interact with new and existing customers and to connect with them in a way which is just not possible through a catalogue.
“It gives us a chance to understand better what they need, ensuring we have the right products to match and we simply couldn’t do this without the forum of an event like this.
“The quality of our products is king for us and the event allows us to show people this. It’s also a chance for us to tell the story behind the business which is very important to people these days.
“It’s great and so busy which gives us a chance to reach a lot of people in a relatively short space of time.”
The Welsh Government were also in attendance on Welsh Street represented jointly by Food & Drink Wales and Visit Wales.
Among the thousands of visitors attending the event were Michelle Casmore and Melissa Williams of Y Pantri café in Caernarfon.
Michelle, Manager of Y Pantri, said: “We bake a lot of things ourselves and this event is really useful for coming and getting inspiration and fresh ideas.
“We buy from Harlech Foodservice and like to keep things as local as possible so the event is great for coming and seeing the products, trying them, seeing which might work best for us.”
Her colleague and assistant manager, Melissa, added: “When we come across a good product locally, such as the Dragon cheese, then we will always use that in our own baking and let our customers know that we do.”
Melissa added that discussing allergy awareness with the expo producers had also been very helpful.
She said: “It is about being able to find out which products are suitable for everybody and speaking to the producers themselves to understand how best to use them and recommend them to our own customers.”
Green-fingered schoolchildren help food distribution firm plant more than 500 trees
A GREEN-FINGERED group of schoolchildren have helped a growing food distribution firm plant more than 500 trees as part of an ongoing commitment to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Harlech Foodservice, which has its headquarters on Parc Bwyd, Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth, enlisted the skills of 10 youngsters, aged between seven and 11 from nearby Ysgol Llanystumdwy to help with the green project to transform a narrow piece of waste ground on the edge of its main site.
The growing firm, which employs around 200 people and has a satellite base in Chester, ordered in more than 500 trees and shrubs, which included a variety of species such as hazel, hawthorn, apple, hazelnut, rowan, dogwood, dog rose, blackthorn and common crab apple.
Gill Blease, Harlech Foodservice Marketing Manager, was one of those leading the project and joined in the morning’s planting activities.
She said: “We are one of the region’s biggest employers and take our green responsibilities very seriously and so we have been working hard for some time now to look at ways of reducing our carbon footprint.
“This has included installing solar panels on the roof of the main offices here and replacing all our rep’s company cars with hybrid models.
“The tree planting is part of our ongoing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and the impact we are having on the environment around us but it has other useful benefits too.
“It is great for the team here, for both mental and physical wellbeing. Any staff member was welcome to come down and help with the tree planting and make the most of getting out of the office and into the fresh air for the morning.
“It is also transforming what is currently a piece of waste land into something which is much more visually appealing, attracting wildlife and creating spaces for our staff to go and enjoy during their breaks from work.”
Gill’s colleague Crofton Davey, HR Manager for Harlech Foodservice, said the tree planting project was also great for having the opportunity to strengthen their links with the local primary school and wider community.
Crofton, whose wife Cathryn is headteacher of Ysgol Llanystumdwy, said: “We all live and work together in this beautiful region and so it makes sense for us to look at ways of engaging with the local community and joining forces together to look after it.
“It’s been lovely to team up with the children, who are literally down the road from us, and work on this project together. We are supporting them by providing the chance to take part in a project outside of school and they are helping us by coming and planting the trees and making the whole thing a lot of fun.”
One of those enjoying making the most of the tree planting project was 10-year-old Ela Bentley who is in year six at Ysgol Llanystumdwy.
Ela, who is a member of the school gardening club, said: “I have really enjoyed coming here today to help with the planting because it is a chance to get outside and do something fun.
“I really like gardening at school and now I am getting to use the things I have learned there to help plant the trees here.
“I think it will look a lot prettier once the trees and plants have grown and I am looking forward to coming back and seeing what it looks like. Hopefully it will be a better place for wildlife to come too.”
Cathryn Davey, Headteacher of Ysgol Llanystumdwy, said the planting with Harlech Foodservice had been a great opportunity for the children.
She added: “This fits in so well with a lot of things we are trying to encourage the children to think about and enjoy – getting outside more, helping others in the community and being aware of our environmental impact and how we might improve this.
“What’s also nice is that we will be able to come back and see how the trees and shrubs they have worked hard to plant this morning have grown and improved the area.
“It’s been a lovely project for us all to be involved in and we are thankful to Harlech Foodservice for inviting us along.”
Growing food company beefs up range
A growing food distribution company is championing Welsh beef with the launch of a new range of products that have just secured protected European status.
Harlech Foodservice, which has its headquarters in Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth in Gwynedd, and a satellite base in Chester, has sealed a deal to sell “top quality, succulent” steaks, roasting joints, diced beef and minced beef under the Brongain Farm brand.
The 680-acre Brongain Farm, in Llanfechain in Powys, is owned by the Pickstock family who have recently completed all the necessary Welsh Government audits to qualify for European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) accreditation for their Welsh beef.
PGI status covers regional and traditional foods whose origins can be guaranteed.
Securing the status European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) will give the Brongain Farm brand greater prominence and provides consumers with greater confidence about its provenance.
As a result, Pickstocks are aiming to increase the size of their Aberdeen Angus herd from 800 to 1,000 cattle.
As demand grows, Brongain Farm will be buying livestock from other approved farms who meet their “high environmental, sustainability and welfare standards”.
Gareth Evans, National Account Manager of the beef processing parent company, Pickstock Telford, said: “Pickstock and Harlech Foodservice are leading the way to help support the Welsh beef industry.
“Brongain Farm will be the flagship brand with Harlech Foodservice going forward.
“Pickstock Telford has recently achieved its Welsh PGI status and looks forward to growing the partnership with Harlech by supplying top quality prime Welsh beef.
“We have an integrated supply chain, controlled all the way from the farm to when it arrives with the customer, essentially all the way from field to fork.