Leading drive for expansion

The new director of Heinz Foodservice, Phil Jones, has only been in the job for a shade under six months, but already he has changed its structure and the way it operates.

When he took the job, Jones said he intended to grow the business by 25%-35% over the next three years and he has been given the resources to build up his team and has an ambitious programme of new product development in the pipeline.

His overall team has grown by 17 people to 55 people and the national account team has been restructured to put greater focus on the end users of the products as well as developing new capability in the wholesale channel. Jones says Heinz has always operated a push through strategy, but the greater focus on end users will help wholesalers by pulling through product.

The overall strategy, he says, will be to grow business with existing customers, as well as acquiring new customers. He explains: “With existing customers, particularly wholesalers, we are making sure we have equipped them with the right range for the customers they service and improved their distribution.”

His reshaped business development team will also be looking to acquire new customers by working with delivered wholesalers’ and cash and carries’ sales teams to bring in new independent trade and smaller multiples, as well as driving national accounts.

He says there is extensive funding for new product development and adds: “We are developing specific NPD for the foodservice sector and we will be looking for incremental growth from products that don’t even exist yet.”

Jones says the company is looking to develop its relationships with wholesalers. “We are now building some really strong alliances. We’ve had relationships for a number of years but at this point it’s more about getting the relationship right, what we can focus on together and what we can measure ourselves against.”

With some larger customers in the delivered and cash and carry sectors Heinz is also looking to develop joint business plans. Jones says: “We want to understand what are the key metrics of the wholesaler or cash and carry’s business and where do our brands fit into that so we agree on what allows us to move forward. But the key is how to make sure that the product that goes in is not just well planned in size and so forth, but there is a programme through to the outlet as well so there is a clear business plan all the way through.”

Jones is also in the process of recruiting an agency to provide third party sales people who will work alongside the big hotels and the cash and carries to help execute any new products that Heinz brings to market.

Jones says that one of the factors that attracted him to Heinz was working with such a well known and respected brand. He moved from another household name, Coca-Cola, where he had worked for 18 years. He started on the wholesale segment of the Features > Business, before spending 12 years on the foodservice side, during which time he managed most of the business sectors it served. Most recently he managed the company’s account with Tesco.

Heinz is one of the few household brand names involved in the foodservice sector, and Jones sees this as a strong selling point. “Our products give consumers confidence in an establishment because it has brands that they recognise and understand.” He says research carried out by Heinz, switching establishments from non branded to branded sauces showed a sales uplift of 20%.

The Heinz Foodservice product range covers three main sectors: condiments and sauces; beans pasta meals and infant feeding; and soup. Condiments and sauces account for about 70% of the foodservice Features > Business, and Jones says: “While we are obviously looking to accelerate that, we are also looking to expand into the back of house with newly acquired brands such as Amoy, and into food on the go with new launches like Big Eat.”

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