‘We need to box clever’ – Caterforce MD Gary Mullineux

Although the foodservice market has declined over the last couple of years, Caterforce has grown its share, moving from 4.8% to 6.3%.

That was just one of the upbeat messages that the group’s managing director Gary Mullineux (below) gave to the 250 delegates at the Caterforce conference, held in Wales earlier this month.

“With the exception of 2020 for obvious reasons, we’ve continued to increase our sales year on year and it was a proud moment in 2021 when we managed to grow sales on 2019’s performance,” he said.

This year, the group bolstered its membership by signing up Dunsters Farm, and Mullineux is predicting further growth: “Our eight family-owned members are investing more than £36 million next year in their people, fleet and warehouses, and by 2025 we expect our group turnover to hit three-quarters of a billion pounds.”

As far as central office is concerned, next year there will be an even bigger focus on the end user and customer. “Consumer confidence is at an all-time low, and as disposable income decreases, there will be a fight in the market for customer share,” he pointed out.

“Our commitment to you, the supplier, is to hold our agreements at the same level as this year, which is a big commitment because we’re also experiencing inflation. In return, we need you, the supplier, to buy into our initiatives. Marketing is really important. It used to be about data and, yes, data is important but that’s a given these days – it is now about customer attention.

“We need to box clever,” he insisted. “We need to be smarter in terms of what we’re doing with inflation – looking at our packaging innovation, product engineering, factory and logistics savings – because we need to support the independent foodservice market.”

Mullineux gave an example of the impact of a product price rise: “A 25p per portion increase to Caterforce impacts the menu to our customers at 63p. That moves the price for a slice of cake at a coffee shop up from £3.50 to over £4. At what point does the customer say ‘I’m going to go without?’ That’s why we need to look at what we’re doing in terms of our products, because at some point, customers are going to go without unless we box clever to support the independent market.”

In addition to Mullineux’s report on Caterforce’s progress and priorities, the conference included a ‘meet the member’ networking session and presentations from senior members of the group on marketing initiatives, sustainability and regional specialisms.

“The conference was a huge success,” said Mullineux, adding: “We are focused on delivering the best commercials for our wholesalers. The next 12 months are going to be a real challenge, and we need suppliers to invest in our initiatives to help our members and customers thrive.”

Recognition for unwavering 40-year commitment

Left to right: Gary Mullineux, Philip Parker, and Caterforce chairman Stephen Carr.

At the Caterforce conference, Philip Parker, purchasing director of Pilgrim Foodservice, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his ‘unwavering 40-year commitment to Pilgrim Foodservice and our industry’.

In addition, several awards were presented to suppliers in celebration of excellent performances over the previous 12 months:

Most Innovative Product
Norseland for Applewood Vegan Slices

Marketing Excellence
La Lorraine for Donut Worry Be Happy

Sustainability Champion
Tilda for its responsible sourcing and work to tackle poverty

Best Service Levels

Own-Brand Supplier of the Year
More Food

Branded Supplier of the Year

Published Date: November 23, 2022
Category: Wholesale Industry News