The winners of the FWD’s Gold Medals took the applause of the entire wholesale sector as they received their awards in London last week. The seven individual winners, whose jobs range from delivery driver to depot manager, were chosen by the judges for their skill, commitment and enthusiasm over the last year, and their contribution to the success of their employers and their customers.

Gold Medal Customer Support winner Rob Owen, executive development chef at Creed Foodservice, has revamped customers’ menus, organised product development days, and presents new cooking techniques to chefs. He is said to really get under the skin of his customers’ businesses. One said: “The innovations he brings have been truly amazing, and his enthusiasm is contagious.”

The Depot Team Member award went to Gita Patel of Gilsons Foods, who has been with the company for 43 years. She answers the phones, processes payments, gets the best deals for the customers, and without her, the small depot just would not function.

Winner of the Gold Medal Cash and Carry Manager was Brett Vigelskas, of Costco Leeds. Despite running Costco’s smallest depot, Brett made Leeds its sixth most profitable. Speed of service was a focus this year, but Vigelskas makes sure the team always give time and a smile to customers. Costco has recognised Brett’s invaluable contribution by asking him to run its new outlet in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The Gold Medal for Delivered Depot Manager went to John Atwater, of Batley’s Coventry. John joined Bestway Wholesale five years ago to set up the group’s first chilled distribution hub. The depot now turns over £20m a year, up 11% year on year thanks to Atwater’s organisation and planning skills. He has implemented a staff rewards scheme and restructured the picking process to improve efficiency and reduce waste for both the depot and its customers.

Maxine Brown of Lomond Fine Foods took home the Gold Medal Telesales Executive Award. The judges were impressed by her tireless enthusiasm and knowledge of her product list as well as her customers. She has visited her customers to learn about their businesses and even delivered to them during busy periods.

The Delivered Wholesale Driver Medals was won by Perry Cordell of Bidvest Foodservice. Based in Wakefield, Cordell delivers 600 cases a day on an average 160-mile route. His smooth driving style means he’s 25% more fuel efficient than the average driver, which results in enormous savings.

The Young Wholesaler of the Year award went to Sarah Whiddett of Bidvest Foodservice. In less than three years, Whiddett has made her mark not only on Bidvest, but also on the entire wholesale channel. Her drive to put the customer at the heart of decision making, development and corporate strategy has certainly paid dividends and her team’s research projects have helped shape key business decisions and initiatives.

Gold Medal Wholesale Service to Retail: Palmer & Harvey

Gold Medal Wholesale Service to Caterers: Birchall Foodservice

Gold Medal Wholesale Service to Caterers Multiple: Bidvest Foodservice

Gold Medal Customer Support: Rob Owen, Creed Foodservice

Gold Medal Cash & Carry Depot Team: Bestway Wholesale, Tottenham

Gold Medal Green Wholesaler: Bidvest Foodservice

Gold Medal for Digital Innovation: JJ Food Service



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