Andrew Selley

Complex; political; bureaucratic; outdated; complacent; inward-looking, and reactive. According to Bidfood’s CEO Andrew Selley these are the words his own senior managers used to describe the business before he set about overhauling it.

Delivering the annual Arena Face2Face lecture at the Savoy Hotel this week, Selley, who is current Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) chairman, described how he used staff momentum to deliver business change.

“I asked 120 senior managers to write down three things they wanted to see change, three things they wanted the business to be in the future and one thing they wanted the business to be famous for…their desire to create a dynamic, visionary, passionate, and forward-thinking operation gave us the momentum to transform and bring people with us,” he said.

The company announced a raft of changes in 2015 which included restructuring of its three regions into two, north and south, alongside positioning general managers into each depot. A new state-of-the art depot and business support centre also opened in Slough last August. As of next week, the company will rebrand from Bidvest Foodservice to Bidfood.

He added: “The one thing we all wanted to be famous for was service excellence. You can be competitive on price, promotions and all sorts of things but if you provide fantastic service that exceeds your competitors then your customers will want to stay with you.”

Selley went on to say that by slashing internal central costs, overhauling its IT, and selling a wider range of products with a better margin, the company has matched profit expectations, previously deemed unrealistic.

In 2016 the company’s foodservice operation was cited as the star performer as the Johannesburg-based parent group posted an increased global trading profit of 22%.

It’s not about screwing your customers or screwing your suppliers to work harder,” he concluded.

Selley finished by speaking about the challenges and opportunities around Brexit, and the company’s commitment to driving environmental change alongside sustainability.

The evening event also played host to a panel discussion examining Brexit for the foodservice and hospitality industry. Chairing the panel was government affairs director at the British Hospitality Association, Vernon Hunte. The other panellists were Jason Myers, chief executive officer at restaurant Busaba Eathai, Bob Silk, who is hospitality and leisure team director at Barclays, and Sebastian Calnan, consultant, at EMW Law.

The next Arena Face2Face event is an audience with Michelin-starred chef Mark Sergeant, and takes place on 27 April.

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Helena Drakakis is a journalist for betterWholesaling. Liaising with some of the leading suppliers and industry experts, she aims to bring wholesalers the best advice, latest news and inspiration.


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