Identifying excellence

While it may have undergone a change in name in 2017, Bidfood continues to draw upon the reputation for service excellence that it has proudly held for the past two decades

In May 2016, the global Bidvest Foodservice business formally separated from the wider Bidvest Group when it listed independently on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In doing so it sparked a process whereby Bidvest Foodservice UK, with the other Bidvest Foodservice businesses around the world, underwent a rebranding to Bidfood to reflect this in April 2017. “It was important to retain a link to the company’s heritage, as well as to reflect what is at the very heart of the business, hence the name Bidfood was developed,” explains Group Sales and Marketing Director, Andy Kemp.

2017 was not only a year of great change for Bidfood, which remains one of the UK’s leading foodservice providers, but also for the industry as a whole, what with events such as the imminent levy on soft drinks, the ongoing implications of the Brexit vote and Public Health England’s sugar management programme all having an effect on companies. “As a business, we have been working hard to address each of these factors to help support our customers in making informed decisions that align to industry initiatives and changes to legislation,” Andy continues. “Bidfood has also focused heavily on moving towards e-trading with our national customers, with more than 60 per cent of our total sales now coming through e-commerce platforms. This is all part of our core strategy to deliver service excellence, make our customers lives easier and help them to grow.”

Another component of this strategy has been the strengthening of the company’s position in the free trade marketplace, with substantial growth being achieved in the independent arena. “Each of our regional depots have been focusing more on local under a general management infrastructure,” Andy adds. “With 22 depots operating across the UK, this allows us to offer a truly unique local service. We have also continued to see good growth in all sectors and gain comfort from the fact that our business is well spread.”

Brand expansion

In the last 12 months, Bidfood has launched several new ranges that have proven to satisfy the continued thirst for change, and the new habits of its customers and end users. “Led by our insights team, and the superb support of our major manufacturers, we have moved with considerable mileage to provide ranges supporting health and wellbeing, including our ‘Better 4 Me’ line, a dessert range that caters for the health-conscious consumer, as well as weaving in our 2018 trends to our big seasonable offerings,” Andy states. “Meanwhile, some of the specialist brands that we have added to our portfolio in recent times include, Farmstead range of fresh meats, the Black + White Coffee Co brand and Yarde Farm, all of which have experienced considerable growth, with the latter two being transformed from regional names into national players.”

2018 food trends

Arguably the most successful of last year’s seasonal collections was Bidfood’s Create Summer range, and typically for the company it now aims to exceed this with its Create Summer 2018 offering, which became available to customers from the beginning of March. “This year, we have looked at how we can provide a summer range that caters to an increasingly demanding market place,” Andy enthuses. “We are seeing a consistent rise in sales and interest in vegan and dairy-free alternatives, and have been busy working to reflect this. We have also tapped into our 2018 food trends in order to tie together flavour combinations that compliment summer cuisines such as our ‘Moreish MENA’ trend. The result has been a diverse mix of products such as Persian Love Loaf Cake, Oliver James Lamb Kibbeh, and vegan treats including a Vegan Chocolate Brownie, and Chocolate and Coconut Tart.”

While all of the above has been ongoing, the company has also been working with Public Health England to understand how it can best address the issue surrounding sugar and work towards it programme to reduce sugar by 20 per cent by 2020. One of the ways Bidfood has explored this issue has been to identify where it can take some of its own brand products and reformulate them to sit in line with new sugar targets. Examples of products currently being reformulated include the company’s ice creams and tray cakes within its ‘Everyday Favourites’ range.

Award winners

As well as the steps it is taking to contribute to the reduction of childhood obesity, Bidfood is also incredibly proud to have redistributed the equivalent of 157,000 meals in surplus food to those in need, and for driving efforts to reduce its carbon emissions across its estate. “These efforts culminated in a staggering 15.9 per cent reduction in emissions, in part due to installing LED lighting across sites, an enhanced refrigeration maintenance programme, increasing the number of Euro VI engines across our fleet and reducing our grid electricity consumption by five per cent,” Andy details.

These efforts provide a further example of Bidfood’s embracing of continuous improvement, something that is also reflected in the numerous industry awards that it has come to be presented with. “To us, winning awards gives us an industry benchmark, as well as a self-guide for improvement,” Andy says, before going on to highlight some recent examples of the company’s success. “As a leading wholesaler at the forefront of sustainability, we were delighted to have been presented with the FWD Green Wholesaler of the Year award, which we won four years in a row.

New sites

“In 2017 we also, for the first time, entered awards that did not fall within our traditional distribution and foodservice sectors, and therefore were delighted to have been awarded both a UK Business Award and a UK Customer Experience Award. The latter is particularly pleasing, especially with service excellence sitting as it does as at the heart of our business mission, vision and values.”

As Bidfood continues to grow, so too does its infrastructure, and during the summer/autumn of 2018 it will be moving from its current site in Worthing to a larger depot presently being built. The company has also acquired a site in Penrith, which will shortly be opening its doors following a comprehensive refurbishment.

“All of our efforts are ultimately about us wanting to remain the first choice for our customers, providing them with service excellence and ensuring that we are always on hand to support them through what is an ever-changing landscape. They will also help us to build upon one of the most successful years we have had to date through 2018/19,” Andy concludes.