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28 April 2011 | By Adam Leach
Anil Alim has put together a three-year plan for Westbury Street Holdings that he says will involve supplier rationalisation but no drop in quality at the catering business.
Hired as the company’s procurement and supply chain director in January, Alim’s first course of action was to get to grips with how the company – the parent of caterer BaxterStorey and restaurant Benugo – operates. “For the first three months I just got into the business, I visited the units, met the operations directors and quite a few clients,” he told SM. “We’ve got such a wide and diverse supplier base that getting around to meet them is a challenge in itself.”
Alim is now ready to start implementing his three-year plan at the company, which has a £300 million turnover and a purchasing budget in excess of £123 million. He hopes the strategy will enable the company to make efficiency savings, but is adamant any rationalisation will not affect the quality of products the company provides.
His approach will be to make small, well-aimed cuts and consolidation to the supplier base. “If we’ve got 15 butchers across the country, do we need three per metropolis? Those are the kind of questions I’m looking to ask, because obviously rationalisation will lead to efficiency savings.” He has a similar plan for the company’s milk supplies, where he believes there is scope to keep regional suppliers but on a less extreme scale. “We only need one regional supplier in each quarter of the country,” he said.
But Alim is keen to stress that the decision doesn’t just rest with him. “I’ve got to respect my colleagues’ requirements of choice, because choice is what gets our chefs motivated to do what they do,” he said. In order to get around this he will look to make cuts in “non-emotive categories such as consumables and disposables”.
While the overall plan will look to reduce the number of suppliers where appropriate, Alim explained that his new job has changed his opinion about the value of a large supplier base. “When I first came in I was like ‘wow, 1,600 suppliers, why do we need 1,600 suppliers?’ But I’ve realised it gives you the opportunity to benchmark against every product because you’ve got more than one supplier.”
Alim admits that Westbury doesn’t work in the “traditional way”, but knows they are not “disadvantaged” by it.