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Training within to protect our service

Following on from our update around developing our van drivers to become HGV drivers, take a look at the below link to see what some of our team have to say about the driver shortage and how we’re combating it here at Harlech Foodservice in preparation for the coming year.... read more

Ian Evans

Ian Evans – Operations Manager

17 November 2021
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ian Evans as our Operations Manager. Growing up locally to our Head Office and residing in Trefor, Ian attended Glan Y Mor secondary school in Pwllheli. Ian brings with him a wealth of experience to help shape the future of the operational side of Harlech Foodservice and is already making significant impact on improving our service levels. From a Store Manager of Kwiksave, to Deputy Manager of Tesco Bangor also responsible for Project Managing the opening of new stores, Ian has spent his most recent years as Store Manager of Lidl in Porthmadog. Ian sees his role within Harlech as a new challenge and it was the excitement of strengthening our delivery service that really attracted Ian to the role having previously managed the Tesco home delivery service. We are thrilled to have Ian on board, and we wish him all the best.

Go North Wales Tourism Awards

10 November 2021

We’re delighted to be the Headline Sponsor of The Go North Wales Tourism Award as they celebrate their 30th Anniversary this year.

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The heroes of the tourism and hospitality industry in North Wales are to be honoured for their “grit and determination” in surviving the pandemic.

The judges have announced the finalists who will take centre stage at prestigious Go North Wales Tourism Awards at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday, November 25.

The 48 tourism champions of North Wales shortlisted for top awards - North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk)

HGV Training

10 November 2021
Training within to help battle HGV driver shortage as we plan ahead to next year

Our Managing Director David Cattrall said: “We have always had a policy of recruiting from within whenever and wherever possible and that’s been true of our van drivers.

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“The current situation in the transport sector makes this more important than ever and we believe it is better if we can train our existing staff to fill any gaps rather than getting into a recruiting war.

“In response we ask them to agree to stay with the business for two years after they qualify and all have been happy to do so and we look forward to them working for us for many years into the future.

“We know the worth of our own people and we value their loyalty and believe it is better to offer them a career path through training which at the same time enables us to ensure we can continue to provide our customers with the deliveries they need when they need them.”

A major Welsh food distribution company is fast-tracking drivers through their HGV tests to beat delivery shortages caused by the pandemic and Brexit.

Harlech Foodservice has seven drivers at their depots in Gwynedd and Chester on course to complete their HGV Class C tests this January.

It will take their total number of Class C drivers up to 38 from 31 and it will mean they are fully staffed for the Spring when the demand from hospitality and tourism starts to step up again.

Transport Supervisor Morgan Jones, who joined the company four years ago as a driver and completed the training course himself, said: “It’s something we have been doing for a few years but we’ve stepped it up.

“This is the first time we have done this mass training to ensure we have enough delivery drivers to meet our customers’ needs.

“We had six new van drivers who started this year and they had all done a great job this summer and they have all accepted our offer for them to be trained as HGV drivers by Caernarfon company Carmel Training.

“There is a cost which Harlech cover and it includes the necessary eyesight and medical checks as well as two theory and two practical tests after an intensive three-day course with Carmel in Caernarfon.

“The actual cost is about £1500 each but we reimburse them for that and in return they sign a form committing themselves to the company which they have been happy to do.

“It’s really good to know they’re aware of this and are keen to stay with us at Harlech.”

Among the intake is 23-year-old Rhys Burgess, from Porthmadog, who joined Harlech in June as a van driver and has been enrolled on the HGV course.

He said: “The firm must think I’m good enough to go on to take my HGV and it’s a great opportunity for me and something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s not really about the money. It’s about a good opportunity to make more of myself.

“It’s an opportunity for a young driver like me to move up the ladder and the firm are paying for it which is big help because it’s not cheap and for them to do that is really good.

“It’s about upskilling their staff and while I’m enjoying driving the vans, I’m really looking forward to getting on the lorries.”

Rhys joined Harlech after his job as a kitchen porter at a hotel fell victim to lockdown and he added: “I really needed the work because of lockdown and there aren’t a lot of jobs around here.

“For Harlech to help local people move up the ladder rather than bringing in drivers is really great.”

The Class C licence allows the drivers to take the wheel of any vehicle up to 32 tonnes which isn’t articulated, and covers most of Harlech’s fleet of 35 lorries.

It’s the same course that Morgan took himself when he joined the company full time over four years ago and he added: “We want to get them through this as quickly as we can so they can get used to the vehicles and the routes before business starts to pick up.

“It’s a really good opportunity for them. I trained with the same company and it worked really well for me and it’s good that we are using a local provider to make this great offer to upskill our staff.”

Harlech Managing Director David Cattrall said: “We have always had a policy of recruiting from within whenever and wherever possible and that’s been true of our van drivers.

“The current situation in the transport sector makes this more important than ever and we believe it is better if we can train our existing staff to fill any gaps rather than getting into a recruiting war.

“In response we ask them to agree to stay with the business for two years after they qualify and all have been happy to do so and we look forward to them working for us for many years into the future.

“We know the worth of our own people and we value their loyalty and believe it is better to offer them a career path through training which at the same time enables us to ensure we can continue to provide our customers with the deliveries they need when they need them.”

EXPO 2022

4 October 2021
We’re excited to confirm our Expo will return in 2022, on March 2nd and 3rd at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. We missed it last year and it’s evident our customers and suppliers did too! Not only is the Expo back we will be celebrating 50 years of Harlech Foodservice and we can’t wait for you to share it with us.

With our new Head of Purchasing and Category Managers in place you can be sure to see an array of the very best suppliers fit for purpose for your business requirements. Our Team are working hard to ensure we are providing you with the very best offering at our transparent and competitive pricing, coupled with our 50 year anniversary it’s sure to be a good one!

New Appointments

New Appointments

02 August 2021
We are delighted to welcome Claire Campbell and Clare Hulme to Harlech Foodservice Ltd. Our ambitious expansion plan has seen the recruitment of two new category managers and create the new role of customer experience manager to boost customer relations.

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Managing director David Cattrall said: “We wanted the new team to be in place in readiness for when tourism and hospitality starts to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.

“It is part of a major restructuring which has included quadrupling online sales since upgrading our website and helping customers manage unpredictable demand by introducing an ‘order up to 10pm for next day delivery’ service.

“These appointments are essentially investing in future expansion.

Claire Campbell, who has paraglided in Turkey and climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge, said: “I’m all for pushing boundaries and expanding my comfort zone. That’s why I can’t wait to get to grips with my role here at Harlech Foodservices.”

Claire, 47, from Mold, joined from Iceland frozen foods and added: “I liked my job immensely but a new challenge beckoned and I was impressed by what I was hearing about Harlech Foodservice and its ambitions to expand into the North West.”

Claire, who has also worked for supermarket giant Tesco, said: “The idea really appealed to me of starting a new project almost from zero with a dedicated team of co-workers taking the company significantly forward. It is a perfect step up for me in my career.

“We’re all really chomping at the bit now to make a positive difference for our customers.”

Claire will oversee the ambient products, including dry goods, hygiene products, and PPE materials, with the aim of developing the category, reviewing the range, reducing costs, nurturing new and existing customer relations and ensuring a smooth-running supply chain.

She will work alongside Clare Hulme, 53, from Wallasey, who joins Harlech Foodservice from multi-retailer product provider The Appreciate Group and whose career roles have included working with the Co-op and Park Hampers.

Clare, who has a business studies degree from Liverpool John Moores University, will take charge of the frozen foods, ice creams and chilled goods categories and her focus will also be on developing the range while minimising costs and driving the Harlech Foodservice reputation into the North West.

The new customer experiences manager is Leah Adams, 39, who moves from her role as territory account manager after joining the company in 2016 after returning to North Wales from Oxfordshire.

Leah, from Nefyn, said: “It is a new role but an extremely important one as happy customers are vital to the success of the company.

“My role is to be the voice of the customer within the business and ensure colleagues provide an excellent service.

“I will ensure we never forget their needs and always listen carefully to their feedback. I look forward to developing some long-lasting working relationships, keeping customers fully informed and implementing a successful two-way communications policy with all our existing customers and potential new clients.”

Recruitment plan beats the 'ping-demic' staffing problem

Recruitment plan beats the 'ping-demic' staffing problem

02 August 2021
Many supermarkets and wholesalers have been forced to reduce deliveries or even shut down and big gaps have appeared on the shelves as staff are forced to self-isolate after being pinged by NHS Track and Trace.

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We had already geared up our delivery service by taking on an extra 15 drivers and also taking on more warehouse staff to meet demand.

Managing Director David Cattrall said: “We have successfully recruited 15 drivers and our deliveries are rolling out as usual – we are even going out to pick up stock from suppliers who normally deliver to us.

“We are collecting 100 pallets a day that would normally be delivered to us and today that will include 26 pallets of ice to get our customers through this summer heatwave.

“This is a really busy time of the year for us here in North Wales as the schools have broken up and people are heading for the tourist spots across Mid and North Wales so it’s important to reassure our customers that they can rely on us for deliveries.

“It’s one of our busiest times of the year and it was something we had planned for so thankfully we have been able to cope and keep our customers supplied at their busiest time of the year.”

We also continue with our late night ordering service allowing our customers to order up to 10pm on our website for next day delivery, with our night staff working through the small hours to pick the orders for delivery the next morning.

It has proved very popular as hotels, guesthouses, caravans and campsites fill up in the sunshine and demand rockets. David Cattrall said: “The 10pm order cut off has proved very popular with our customers as it allows them to place and increase orders at the end of service and that’s why we are looking to recruit at least 20 more warehouse nightshift staff at £10.69 an hour and with a £500 bonus if they stay with us to the end of September.

He added: “We’ve been able to afford these rises is because we have worked on improving our systems and working practices during lockdown, for example by improving our e-commerce website which makes it easier for customer to search for products and see our transparent prices.”

McCain

Why buying British is important?

3 June 2021
When we buy British, everything we do - from purchasing local-based produce, to combining these into satisfying and tasty meals; is beneficial for the British food industry as a whole.

With a ‘Buy British’ campaign from McCain Foodservice Solutions, we thought now was a great time to highlight why backing the British food industry is a great idea.

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McCain’s British heritage dates back to their arrival in Scarborough back in 1968 and no has five manufacturing sites across the UK. The company works alongside 250 Red Tractor-assured UK potato farmers and growers to ensure kitchens everywhere are well-stocked with high-quality produce.

Offering British produce has many merits including:

Customers want it
Foodservice is driven by customer demand, and from a recent study, McCain revealed that 60% of consumers said they find British produce to be more appealing now than prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A further 31% of survey respondents said they would now pay more for ingredients from their local area, with 28% being willing to pay more for British produce.

Highlighting ‘trust’ as one of the strongest factors for consumers today – and in the future – these findings show just how important a role chefs play in consumers’ choices. It isn’t just about making delicious meals but ensuring what goes into them is top quality too.

It instils trust
McCain has found that fries and sides are often the first go-to taste of the meal for consumers, so it’s important they impress when they’re placed in front of diners.

We know that British food instils trust, but it has to be cooked well too and displayed in a tantalising way. Consumers’ expectations are going to be high – especially after an extended break from their usual establishments – so now would be your chance to get it right the first time.

Collaborating with consumer research specialists (Catalyx) McCain UK discovered that customers experience a heightened state of emotion while waiting for their food to reach their table and if the food isn’t up to scratch, this severely heightens the disappointment.

McCain found it to be essential that customers are pleased with the contents of their meal and delivery service. Being ‘hangry’ and disappointed, they found, can cause a knee-jerk reaction to a negative review or complaint online.

Reduces carbon footprint
As British food doesn’t travel as far it has a lower carbon footprint than most foods that are imported, highlights LoveBritishFood.

Meat produced in Britain is also made to some of the highest welfare standards globally, which means you’ll be doing good in all kinds of ways.

Supports the economy
When you buy British you’re not just supporting the farmers you’re buying the produce from, you are also supporting the economy as a whole.

You’ll have the assurance of knowing what you’re buying – and cooking – and your customers will have that same assurance when enjoying their favourite meals.

ACCREDITED MEMBER OF THE CLEANING AND HYGIENE SUPPLIERS ASSOCIATION

Accredited Member of the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association

5 May 2021
We are proud to have become a member of the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association. As a member of the Accreditation Scheme for Distributors we offer our customers only those products accredited by the Scheme for Manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene chemicals, paper-based and woven products, plastic-based products and cotton-based products, or those that conform to the relevant standards. You can view our full range of cleaning and hygiene products online. Log in to your account here.

personal protective equipment

PPE

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.

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“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.”

Adult Mental Health First Aid (Wales) Course

Mental Health

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.

Harlech Foodservice depot

Six key recruits will turbo-charge food firm’s
growth to become £50m company

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.

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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.”

Food allergens

Are you compliant

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.

North Wales food wholesaler

Mission of mercy – Harlech Foodservice driver Tadek Jones and their fleet of vehicles ready to deliver to various Food Projects across the region.

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.

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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.”

Harlech Foodservice truck

Eight trucks of food donated to foodbanks in the last two weeks

29 January2021
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.

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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.

Cheshire Food Hub

Business makes generous food donation to Cheshire Food Hub

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.

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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."

Director Mark Lawton with cook Louise Roberts at Ysgol Brynhyfryd

Denbighshire school meals contracts won by Gwynedd food firm promising more Welsh produce

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.

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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.” .

Hickory’s Smokehouse

Food firm clinches smokin’ £3.5m deal

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.

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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