WSH reports 10% sales growth in 2014 to £591m

WSH reports 10% sales growth in 2014 to £591m

WSH, the UK's largest independent foodservice and hospitality operator, has reported a 10% increase in sales turnover to £590.7m (2013: £534.8m) for the 12 months to December 2014.

As the company behind six trading brands, including BaxterStorey, Benugo and most recently Searcys, saw double digit sales growth for the 14th consecutive year.

WSH, which also counts Caterlink, Holroyd Howe and Portico in its portfolio, said that it had created more than 1,250 jobs during the period taking its total workforce to more than 16,650 people in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Alastair Storey, chairman and founder of WSH, told The Caterer that the company was very pleased with the figures. He said: "Financials are nice. They're a health check. What's we're looking to answer is, are we looking after our customers and team members? Are we creating a reasonable level of growth and is it sustainable?

"We do that by concentrating on the quality of the food and service we're providing. You've got to be innovative, nimble and entrepreneurial. If you do these things, growth will come."

Last month its restaurant, bar and event business Searcys, which was bought by WSH last August off an asking price of £25m to £30m, reported a 9% surge in sales to the end of 2014 following its acquisition.

Commenting on whether further company purchases are on the cards, Storey indicated that anything is possible but emphasised that WSH isn't on the acquisition trail.

"To be honest, we never say never," he explained. "If you think about it, we did nothing between 2007 and 2014 on that front. We're not a desperately acquisitive business. I much prefer organic growth because I think that creates more solidity. The brand offer is much stronger and cleaner.

"It takes a long time to build up brands like BaxterStorey and Benugo. Searcys was an opportunity and we're delighted to have them on board. There's a great team there and we will invest to help them flourish because I know they've got lots to offer.

"Chris Maddison has done a great job and Edward Griffiths has come on board and he can help Chris. They've had some great wins and retentions. They're fired up and I hope for more of the same."

Benugo, which operates high street stores as well as business & Industry (B&I) and public space concessions, saw a 16% growth in turnover to £81.1m (2013: £70.1m), which the company attributed to like-for-like growth across its high street operations, and significant contract wins with the Wellcome Collection and Regent's Park.‎

B&I caterer BaxterStorey increased turnover by 3% to £358.2m (2013: £348.3m), while increasing investment in training, food innovation and people management systems. During 2014, the company trained over 1,200 people through its Barista Academy, 32 chefs graduated from its Chef Academy and over 2,100 people were trained to become allergen champions following the introduction of new guidelines.

WSH's education brands, Holroyd Howe and Caterlink, both saw revenues grow by 14% to £44.1m (2013: £38.7m) and 12% to £71.4m (2013: £63.5m) respectively, alongside increasing developments in their operations.‎ Independent school caterer Holroyd Howe saw an uplift in the sector, with more schools choosing to outsource food services, while Caterlink achieved the Soil Association's Gold Standard Food for Life Catering Mark in two of its largest contracts.

Front of house services provider Portico also saw a strong year of growth and investment. Turnover increased by 10% to £15.8m (2013: £14.4m) 10% following key contract wins at the Leadenhall Building and 20 Fenchurch Street. It was also awarded the Investors In People Gold accreditation in 2014.

WSH sales soar 15% to £535m >>

Searcys reports 9% sales surge after WSH acquisition >>

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