Conference Review

Stuart Smith, commercial director of Brakes, reassured suppliers about their importance to his company. Addressing suppliers he said: “We believe it is a true partnership. We need you as much as you need us.”

He was also upbeat about future prospects despite the current state of the overall marketplace, telling suppliers: “We can give you growth, we are giving you growth.”

Smith also explained how Brakes had evolved from a business that was simply delivering products to customers into one which was aiming to provide a much wider service to its customers, and to keep pace with their changing needs.

He said: “We are not just a warehousing or distribution business anymore, we are a buying, marketing, selling business extremely focused on our marketplace and also our customers and we spend a lot of time, energy and effort trying to understand exactly the rapidly changing market we serve.”

Smith said kitchens were under considerable pressure with growing financial burdens, difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff, pressure for improved products and provenance and issues such as the speed of service.

He said Brakes aimed to help its customers deal with issues such as de-skilling in the kitchen, and consumers demand for healthy yet convenient food, by anticipating these needs and providing the products and services to enable caterers to cope with them.

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