AF Blakemore welcomed more than 300 attendees to its annual Supplier Conference as the company celebrated a successful year of new business, acquisitions and growth before focusing on opportunities for suppliers across the group over the coming years.
Group Commercial Managing Director Jerry Marwood detailed the successes that the group achieved over the previous 12 months, including record inbound store recruitment across its SPAR estate and the addition of SOHO Coffee Co. and Bistrot Pierre to its Foodservice client base. A year after its purchase, the Philpotts transformation is well underway with new menus, store refits and the acquisition of new sites.
Pushing for further growth, Group Operations Managing Director Geoff Hallam detailed the £15m investment made in a new group distribution centre in Bedford, a £6m investment in IT and a £2.3m investment in commercial terms for independent SPAR retailers, as well as ambitious new space targets for retail operations across Blakemore Retail company-owned stores and Philpotts, and an aim to grow the turnover of the Foodservice division by £100 million over the next five years.
Suppliers were detailed a suite of opportunities to collaborate, whether through logistics, operations, sustainability or marketing, before Group Trading Director Rupert Morris finished the day with a very clear message. He said, “If you’re a supplier, we have it all at Blakemore’s. We’re a family business with 103 years of heritage and huge scale as one of the biggest privately owned companies in Great Britain.
“Through our divisions we have a view of the customer and their food consumption that is unrivalled amongst our competitor set, whether at home, on the go, dining out, on holiday, in education or in a corporate environment, and we can offer suppliers a route to each of those markets.”
Growth is facilitated by AFB’s ongoing commitment to investing 94% of its profits back into the business, with a further 2% donated to the Blakemore Foundation, the company’s charitable trust.