Talent takes gold

The top performers in the wholesale sector during 2008 were recognised at the 2008 FWD Gold Medal Awards in front of another sell-out audience at the Caf eacute; Royal.

The presentation of the awards was presided over by FWD chairman Francis Ball, and he was joined by Eddy Pirard, regional president UK and Ireland of Gallaher, which was sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards for wholesalers, and Bryan Drew, group commercial director of Booker, sponsor of the awards to suppliers.

The names of the winners and details of why they were chosen were announced by radio presenter and former England and British Lions rugby star Martin Bayfield.

As is traditional the first award that was presented recognised the contribution of younger people in the industry. The Gold Medal for Young Wholesaler of the Year was presented to Stuart Hyslop, regional director of Booker. Bayfield said: “His sales and profit record is exceptional – and when you learn that through his operating region he has responsibility for 29 branches and a turnover of pound;550m – we are talking big numbers. This is also the man who, while working in a head office role, developed a programme that continues to survey thousands of customers on a quarterly basis to help depot managers across the company to identify areas for improvement and raise standards.”

Prakash Thakrar, managing director of HT Co Drinks, won the Gold Medal for Independent Cash and Carry Manager of the Year. Bayfield said: “His rapport with his staff of 70 is enviable and he commands respect at all levels. In the last 10 years he has succeeded in trebling the size of the depot and increasing turnover almost 10-fold.”

The winner of the Gold Medal for Multiple Cash and Carry Manager of the Year was won by Robert Hardie, warehouse manager at Costco, Chingford. Bayfield said: “Although the youngest depot manager in his company, his career spans 11 years, working in six locations. He is a hard working and tenacious individual who has an infectious passion for merchandising. Extremely self critical, he constantly strives for excellence and is equally encouraging with regard to his 200 staff members.”

The Gold Medal for the Independent Delivered Depot Manager of the Year was presented to Aroon Samani, managing director of Premier Wholesale. Bayfield said: “This winner spent 25 years running convenience stores before venturing into the wholesale business with his family. Approachable and a good team player with a staff of 45, he constantly looks for ways to improve the business. His extensive retail experience has given him a great understanding of the needs of his customers. This is evidenced by the fact – that with vision and determination – he has established a disciplined retail group of over 150 stores that has achieved outstanding results.”

This year there was a tie for the Multiple Delivered Depot Manager of the Year. The first Gold Medal was presented to Anthony Johnson, general manager of Bestway’s Darwen depot. Bayfield said: “Our first winner has excellent skills in targeting new and potential customers and last year grew sales by 14%. In his four years with the company, he has forged a very good relationship with his team of 50 staff.”

The second Gold Medal was presented to Mike Morgan, depot general manager of 3663, Northampton. Bayfield said: “Here is a very dedicated individual who is passionate about his depot, people and customers’ success. His excellent leadership skills have not only helped to increase sales and profitability, but also to achieve an Investor in People award as well as a top European standard of excellence.”

The Gold Medal for Wholesaler Service to Retailers was presented to Mukesh Vithlani, trading director of Dhamecha Foods. Bayfield said: “With 28 years service, this individual has built an effective relationship with all sides of his firm’s business. A very good motivator, he also runs a buying team of eight controllers and has responsibility for all aspects of trade other than licensed. Part of a family team, he achieves consistent growth for the business.”

Jim Dick, trading director at William Yule Son, won the Gold Medal for Wholesaler Service to Caterers. Bayfield said: “This winner is a key member of the management team with 29 years service to his company. His commitment is 100%. And the long service record of his sales team demonstrates the excellent relationships he has developed. He is responsible for all aspects of the trading function – including buying and managing the field sales and tele-sales teams. He is a highly adaptable and well-liked individual.”

The Gold Medals for suppliers are awarded on a ‘first past the post’ vote by the FWD’s wholesaler members throughout the UK, with the voting process supervised by external chartered accountants.

The Gold Medal for Drinks Brand of the Year was won by Carlsberg and was presented to Chris Houlton, customer director, national accounts. Bayfield said: “The winner here has increased its value share by 22% in the total take home market to become the leading brand in its category. Its success has been driven by having the right strategy in the impulse market – and a dedicated sales force that calls regularly on independents offering support and category advice, and it is claimed to be the only mainstream lager brand in growth in impulse over the past year.”

Cr egrave;me Egg Twisted Bar was the winner of the Gold Medal for Grocery Brand of the Year, and was presented to sales director Nick Canney. Bayfield said: “The success of this year’s winning brand is down to two key factors. The first is that it meets a genuine consumer need – and the second is the continued marketing support the producer has put behind it. Tailored point-of-sale and other merchandising material helped to create maximum impact in-depot to increase visibility of the brand and drive purchase through the wholesale sector.”

The Gold Medal for Foodservice Brand of the Year was won by Procter Gamble’s Expert Range, and was presented to sales director Jon Workman. Bayfield said: “Two years of research and development helped to produce this top performing range of products. It was specially designed for the demanding conditions found in catering and foodservice. And the company communicated the clear benefits of the products in an extremely well executed re-launch campaign. To date sales have exceeded expectations and our winner has received fantastic feedback.”

HJ Heinz won the Gold Medal for the Service Company of the Year in Retail, which was presented to customer business development manager Simon Digby. Bayfield said: “Twelve months ago, this company presented a new focus and strategy exclusively for the wholesale and convenience channel. The company was swiftly recognised as one that the wholesale community wanted to do business with – and one where it could grow sales. After years of relatively poor performance, the last year has seen significant sales growth. And the wholesale sector has achieved a strong collaborative working relationship with this major supplier.”

The Service Company of the Year in Foodservice was Nestl eacute; Professional, and the Gold Medal was presented to commercial director Rob Mesure. Bayfield said: “Our winner has driven customer service levels to 99.2% across its total business. It has achieved this by working more closely with its key customers and through better forecasting by its own account and supply chain teams. This major supplier continues to add value across all the categories it trades in. For instance, a recent award-winning loyalty campaign on one of its best-known brands generated over 150,000 redemptions through wholesalers’ customers.”

Mars Snackfoods was the winner of the Gold Medal for Best Trade Advertising in ProWholesaler, and it was presented to Mars UK sales director Martin Porter. Bayfield said the award was: “For a stunning series of advertisements that has kept the wholesale channel up-to-date with their portfolio of brands, market information and category advice, as well as continued support of the special project ‘Wholesaler To Retailer’.”

The final Gold Medal of the Evening was for the My Shop is Your Shop Retailer of the Year, and was won by Raj and Sunita Aggarwal, the owners of two Londis stores in Leicester. Bayfield said: “Our Gold Medal winners: raised over pound;20,000 in aid to provide water wells for tsunami victims; sent coaches of disabled children to a theme park and provided them with homemade sandwiches, back packs and T-shirts; gave constant support to local schools with sponsorship and in-store events; spent many hours organising a new My Shop is Your Shop scheme where teams of local youngsters were linked up with their local Division One football team for coaching and a big knock out tournament; and they were responsible for leading 2,000 local residents in a fight against the local council’s plan to close two through roads. Our winner led 500 local people into the council chamber where councillors reversed their previous decision.”

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