Overall ranking: 46 (new entry)
Foodservice ranking: 6 (new entry)
Husband-and-wife team Andrew Wilson and Carolyne Vale co-founded Wilson Vale in 2002 with £50,000, a laptop and some spare space above the garage at their Derbyshire home. Operating within the business and industry, private education and conference venue sectors across the UK, Wilson Vale has largely eschewed the bright lights of the highly competitive London market in order to carve out a niche as a key regional player. Annual turnover increased by 14.7% year-on-year to push past £25m for the first time in the financial year ending 31 December 2016, while pre-tax profit topped £2m. The caterer says it expects revenues to reach £33m by the end of 2018. Of the company's 275 suppliers, 65% are family-owned.
What we think
As a catering partnership, Wilson and Vale work seamlessly together. Vale is the hands-on operator who looks after the teams and existing clients, while Wilson supports sales on new business and new relationships.
They know what they, and by extension the company, are good at, and their oft-repeated business ethos is "stick to your knitting". For them, consistency is key, which is why they took the decision to control the rate of growth and strive for quality before quantity.
They insist that the company has the same aspirations they outlined at their kitchen table when they first discussed setting up the business in 2002. Their decision to, on occasion, walk away from opportunities that might dilute their values is evidence of this. They might be able to do it, but they want to do it well.
The tactic of slow and steady wins the race is paying off, as Wilson Vale expands beyond its Midlands heartland. Meanwhile, the investment in management that saw Alan Beddie promoted from operations director to managing director amid a reshuffle of the client services team suggests that Wilson and Vale are gearing up for a fresh period of growth.
Among its portfolio of 95 client sites are the York offices of global insurer Hiscox and the Midlands headquarters of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Arguably the biggest testimony to Wilson and Vale's catering credentials is the three-year contract extension it won in early 2017 at the Buckinghamshire-based corporate headquarters of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It has also been delivering catering services at IHG's Burton-on-Trent offices since 2002 and the latest win is clear evidence of the firm's ability to grow in groups.
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