Harlech Net Zero

Welsh food firm on road to net zero with
£1m investment in six low-emission trucks

1 Ma1 2024
A fast-growing Welsh food wholesaler is going green as it builds for the future with a £1 million fleet of six new low-emission delivery trucks.

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Harlech Foodservice are blazing a trail towards their own net zero landmark of 2050 at the same time as they launch a major expansion of the business into South and West Wales with new depots at Merthyr and Carmarthen.

They have already made some major savings by switching to more environmentally-friendly coolant gas for their giant freezer rooms at their headquarters and for their refrigerated transport fleet as part of a major review of their energy needs.

Another six HGVs are being added to the fleet by the end of this year at a cost of another £1 million That is being done as the company gears up to build new markets from its latest base in Carmarthen where they are targeting South West Wales.

Harlech reported on their progress towards their zero emissions target at a Net Zero North Wales Network session at Pontio, in Bangor, following a fact-finding visit to their headquarters near Criccieth by members of the Net Zero North Wales Network.

That was led by Ashley Rogers, the Chief Executive of the North Wales Business Council, who came on a fact-finding mission to see the green revolution in action in the food supply sector.

Harlech Sales Administrator Janette Jones, alongside Head of Operations Ian Evans, has overseen the company’s drive towards Net Zero and she said: “It is really important to embrace the green agenda because so many of our public sector customers demand it now.

“The progress we have made so far has helped us win new public sector contracts so that makes good business sense as well as being environmentally important.

“In turn that is driving the growth of the company which employed about 180 staff pre-Covid but is now heading towards 250.

“As well as the new fleet of HGVs we have and the other delivery vans, we are looking at the feasibility of equipping the sales fleet with all-electric vehicles and using smart technology to plan journeys, deliveries and pick-ups, more efficiently.

“It’s about getting the right people in the right place at the right time because there is a big saving to be made not just in our fuel miles but in the fuel miles of our suppliers.”

Harlech operate from bases at Criccieth, in Gwynedd, Chester, Merthyr Tydfil and newly-opened Carmarthen and between the four locations, the company is increasing employment to 250 staff and running 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.

Harlech Head of Operations Ian Evans, who is in charge of the company’s fleet of 47 lorries and vans, added: “It’s becoming more and more important for our customers in the public sector, schools, colleges, councils and health boards that we commit to Net Zero.

“We’re expanding at our headquarters too with more space including refrigerated space but we are also being more efficient in the way we operate by making the aisles in our warehouses narrower so we can store more.

“We also still have a lot of land here that is surplus to our needs so we are looking at installing more solar panels in addition to our existing solar array on the roofs.”

Net Zero North Wales Ambassador Mared Williams, from Rhug Estate, was a member of the party that visited Harlech’s Headquarters and she said: “What Harlech are doing is really impressive.

“They began measuring their carbon footprint in 2016 and they have made so much progress since then in reducing their carbon footprint while expanding their business.

“They have lots of exciting contracts and are making a huge expansion so it’s great that they’re employing so many local people with a high proportion of Welsh speakers.

“These are also permanent jobs in an area where so much employment has traditionally been seasonal and temporary.”

Mike Learmond, of the Federation of Small Businesses in North Wales, said: “It’s great to see a company that’s embraced carbon reduction and taken positive steps towards net zero, particularly after the sector was so badly hit during Covid.

“They have impressive plans for expansion and they’re baking the drive to Net Zero into those plans.

Frankie Hobro, owner of Anglesey Sea Zoo and Net Zero North Wales Ambassador, was also impressed and said: “It’s good how they have looked at the whole picture of what they do and how they’ve focused in on the areas where they can save most energy.

“The logistics of the site are incredible and the way they are expanding the business at the same time as they are ramping up their drive to become more sustainable is very impressive.”

The next Net Zero North Wales Network free session is set for Wednesday July 10, at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. For more details go to:

Helping hand for city’s homeless charity
as more women and elderly sleep rough

26 March 2024
A Chester homeless charity dealing with a dramatic rise in the number of women and older people knocking on its door is getting a helping hand from a leading food wholesaler.

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Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH), which is currently dealing with up to 50 people a week at its drop-in centre on Grosvenor Street, is receiving regular donations of food from Harlech Foodservice which has a base in the city.

Charity Chief Executive Robert Whittall says the cost of living crisis has seen a big increase in the number of women and older people asking for help along with asylum seekers who have been granted the right to remain.

He has been with the charity for over 20 years and he said: “We work with anyone and everyone but the problem is now that we’re inundated. “It’s not just that numbers have gone up but the problems they face have become more complicated.

“We are seeing different people now, a lot more older people and a lot more women as well as people who are working but finding it difficult to survive.

“There are also more refugees because once they have been granted asylum then all the support they had drops away including their accommodation food.

“There have always been a lot of young people on the streets but now there are more older people with more complex health issues because they lead more chaotic lifestyles.

“Life expectancy for a homeless person is much lower than for the rest of the population and for women it’s lower than for men, half the national average for a woman of 83.

“Women are more vulnerable and more prone to being exploited but when I first started there were very few homeless women. They were more resourceful than men and would always find a way to keep a roof over their heads.

“But we’re seeing a definite change with more women presenting as homeless – between ten and 15 per cent now.

“Society has changed and issues of drink and drugs have become worse but if you need drink or drugs then what was your issue before that?” David Roberts, Harlech Key Account Manager, said: “We can all see that the issue of rough sleeping has grown worse over recent years and even a city like Chester has a homelessness problem.

“As a business Harlech like to make a contribution to the areas in which we operate and employ people and Chester where we have a depot, North West England and North East Wales has increased in importance to us.

“We work closely with Chester Aid To The Homeless and liaise with them to find out what they need and we then do our best to meet that need whether it is for food or for other items such as toiletries.

“It’s a startling fact that someone on the streets has a life expectancy half that of the average so we’re happy to support the fantastic work being done by Chester Aid To The Homeless.

“We also supplied the drinks for the team at CATH to treat homeless families to a performance of the panto Cinderella at the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester.”

CATH was founded in 1972 and has been delivering services to the homeless for over 50 years with its main point of contact at the Harold Tomlins Centre on Grosvenor Street which is open five days a week, nine to 10am including showers and laundry facilities and 11am-1pm for food.

They work with Soul Kitchen and Share to provide food with Soul Kitchen supplying a Saturday evening meal as well as cooking courses. It also provides medical services and food and has accommodation for 31 people at seven sites around the city.

CATH Service Manager Emily Stephens said: “Harlech e-mail us with what’s available and we tell them what we need and it works very well.

“We get people from all walks of life – at one time we had an aeronautical engineer who had worked on Richard Branson’s hot air balloon flights. “Not everyone who comes here is homeless but they do need support. They’re lonely and just need someone to talk to.”

Top food supplier launches “aggressive” price cutting campaign and undercuts competitors by up to 38%

11 March 2024
A Welsh food wholesaler has launched a new campaign to slash prices and undercut its competitors by up to 38%.

Harlech Foodservice, which has bases in Criccieth, Chester, Carmarthen and Merthyr Tydfil, announced the “aggressive” drive at its two-day Food Expo for trade customers at Venue Cymru in Llandudno where record sales topped £1 million.

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More than 100 lines have been added to Harlech’s price comparison package as part of its Trust Our Prices initiative, with nearly 400 top selling lines benchmarked against competitors’ prices.

Harlech managing director David Cattrall said: “We are disrupting the established way foodservice companies operate.

“We believe our approach is refreshingly different to most companies and helps chefs plan menus with confidence.

“We will be offering a core range of foodservice products at honest list prices, rather than the common practice of fake, artificially inflated list prices that require ‘negotiation’.

“We’ve done the price comparisons so our customers don’t have to and we’re nearly 40 per cent cheaper than the biggest foodservice company in the UK and 15 per cent cheaper than our biggest rival in Wales.

“Our Trust Our Prices pledge covers 390 popular items with the prices being locked down for several months - and we are promising no sneaky price rises without warning.

“That’s because we know our customers, the hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafés, are facing huge challenges and we aim to help them by guaranteeing the prices of goods to give them certainty in uncertain times.

“We understand how unpredictable trade can be for our customers so they can order up to 10pm, once their service has finished, and we deliver to premises the following day, six days a week.

“These are highly competitive prices on genuine key lines for our customers.

“For example, that means giant 2.6kg tins of Country Range Baked Beans for £4.49, 20 litres of Vegetable Oil for £27.99, two-kilo bags of sugar for £3.29, two kilos of prawns for £18.79, four litres of vanilla ice-cream £4.99 and Alabama fudge cake at less than a pound a portion with those prices guaranteed at least until September.

“The Trust Our Prices campaign is already proving hugely popular with our customers and we have had some brilliant feedback at the Food Expo and it’s clear they really appreciate what we are doing to help them.”

The announcement has gone down well with customers at the Expo, free to people in the trade but not open to the public, where there was a record number of stands across two rooms at Venue Cymru for the popular annual event.

Exhibitors included 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.

Vicky Owen, Manager of Caernarfon’s historic 16th century Black Boy Inn, said: “It’s a great event and it’s good to see what’s going on and what the new trends are and what competitors are looking at.”

John Evans, owner of the Black Boy, said: “It’s good to see new trends and to be able to spot what will work for us in the future and we have had a great relationship with Harlech.”

Certainty in pricing is an important factor for the Infunity Soft Play Centre in Mold.

Floor Manager Laura Marshall said: “It’s very important for us when we’re dealing with up to 200 children a day to know that the prices are guaranteed to stay the same.

“Harlech are very, very helpful and it’s great to know that we can always speak to someone there.

“We do like to change our menus regularly and Harlech are always very good at adapting to our requirements and doing it at the right price.”

Nia Roberts, of Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy, said: “The Expo is great for networking and for meeting new customers.

“We supply lots of schools through Harlech and more schools are providing free meals for pupils now so we are seeing a surge in demand.”

Ed Moore, Director of Henllan Bakery, in Denbigh, said: “It’s a great event for us as it’s all about speaking to our customers and also to potential new customers.

“We are a growing business and so are Harlech so that’s a really important relationship for us.”

Maddie Williams, National Account Executive for Aber Falls Distillery, from Abergwyngregyn, said: “This is one of the most important events of the year for us and because Harlech are a very popular and successful business it’s important for us to be here and to support our customers.”

The Expo was the first day working with Harlech for the In The Welsh Wind Distillery, based at Tan y Groes, near Cardigan, and Dan Jones, Sales and Export Manager, said: “It’s all about brand awareness for us.

“We’re hoping to expand our business and there’s nowhere better to do it than here with Harlech who have a great customer base and are very loyal to Welsh producers.

“We produce gin, rum, vodka and whisky and everything is done on site, even our barley is grown right outside.”

Food distribution firm creates 15 jobs at new Carmarthen depot as part of £6m expansion

29 February 2024
A fast-growing food wholesaler is opening a new depot in Carmarthen as part of a £6 million expansion plan.

Overall Harlech Foodservice – which has other bases in Criccieth in Gwynedd, Chester and Merthyr Tydfil - will be creating 150 new jobs, with 15 of them in South West Wales.

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Harlech has already appointed Nick Sullivan, who has three decades’ experience in the food supply sector including 23 years with food distribution giant Bidfood, as the Regional Sales Manager for the patch.

The company is in the process of recruiting five new field sales staff and nine new drivers to work in the area.

Opening the new Carmarthen depot was spurred by the company’s growth over the past three years which has seen sales increase from £32 million to a record turnover of around £50 million, with profit at an all-time high of more than £2 million.

According to Harlech, the expansion is being driven by the growing demand from customers in South West Wales, particularly in the hospitality sector.

Managing director David Cattrall said they were keen to respond to the challenges faced by hotels, pubs and restaurants with next day deliveries and “aggressively competitive” prices.

He said: “Harlech are disrupting the established way foodservice companies operate by changing the common practice of inflated list prices and increasing 'negotiated' prices without notice by offering transparent and competitive prices and excellent service to all our customers “As part of our Trust our Prices campaign, we also guarantee that the prices of around 200 lines are locked in for several months, rather than sneaking prices up without notice, after ‘negotiation’.

“We understand how unpredictable trade can be for our customers so they can order up to 10pm, once their service has finished, and we deliver to premises the following day, up to six days a week, enabling chefs to plan their menus with confidence.”

According to Nick Sullivan, originally from Swansea, he’s looking forward to the challenge of leading Harlech’s expansion in South West Wales.

He said: “I wanted to work for a Welsh food supplier and I see a major opportunity to expand in the region”.

“I like the family history behind Harlech and how focused they are on customer service.

“I see this as a fantastic opportunity to expand their market and to offer businesses in the region an alternative Welsh supplier”.

“There’s a massive opportunity here to bring the knowledge and expertise Harlech have developed successfully over the years”.

“They deliver a top class service which I’ve never seen anything like before. Their focus on their customers was what really impressed me and it’s exciting to be a part of the launch of this venture.”

Harlech’s Head of Sales, Chris Gregson, added: “Having a base in Carmarthen is a key part of our £6 million growth plan which will create 150 jobs across the business and give us a strong presence across Wales.

“We see South West Wales as very similar to our heartland in Gwynedd with a strong tourism and hospitality sector which we are very well set up to serve as well as education and health services which we are also experienced in catering for”.

“We are looking to bring more choice to South West Wales with prices you can trust and benchmark against the competition”.

“We also take great pride in delivering high quality customer service and that is something that is also a key factor underpinning this exciting new phase in the company’s continuing expansion”.

“Harlech Foodservice is a proudly Welsh company and opening the depot in Carmarthen means we can now serve the whole of the nation with the same level of high quality service, allied to fantastic products at hugely competitive prices.”

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

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.

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.”