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Sarah Prentice is sales and marketing director at Blue Apple Contract Catering, a business and industry caterer recognised by the London Stock Exchange as one of 1,000 companies to inspire Britain in 2018.
She has quickly proved herself a very capable salesperson and is a key part of the senior management team at Blue Apple, with an influence that goes far beyond winning new business. Although she has high standards and is demanding, she takes great care to ensure her team are happy and motivated.
Prentice has raised the performance bar impressively, delivering exceptional new business figures to date. This year her sales conversion rate is 75% – a first for the business – and she has already reached her new business target for the year ending March 2020. Notable new business gains she has racked up in the past 12 months include Cancer Research's new head office at the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, and Gatwick Airport's north and south terminals. New contracts in London include Capita's brand-new headquarters in Fitzrovia and Rolex in St James's.
New business sales from April 2019 to date equate to £3.2m, and for the past 12 months equal £5.1m, which represents 28% of current annual turnover. Business retention over the past 12 months amounts to £1.5m.
Prentice has ultimate responsibility for winning new business at Blue Apple. She manages a five-strong team and works with the rest of the business to ensure full alignment with the company's strategic objectives. She works closely with the regional operations managers and operations director to retain existing clients within the Blue Apple portfolio.
Prentice worked alongside the company's brand design manager to launch Pip & Bean, Blue Apple's new in-house coffee brand. The organic and Fairtrade beans are sourced from a co-operative called Comisuyl in Honduras and dried in a solar-powered mill.
In terms of people development, there is no greater example of her dedication to her team than Nick Johnstone, who has become a first-rate business development executive. Prentice enjoys working with young people and has recently mentored a University of Surrey School of Hospitality and Tourism student to complete an industry-based project. She has helped two mentees in the past two years and also helps teach children to ride horses at the Quest Riding Centre in Chobham.
An Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) council member since December 2016, she has organised a number of events that bring industry professionals together.
What the judges said
"Sarah is a strong seller who has turned the fortunes of her company's sales performance. She works wells within the industry as a member of ACE and her customers talk about the sales pitch blowing them away. She is dedicated to developing other team members and has won some high-profile accounts."
Terry Waldron, chief operating officer, CH&Co
"With a win rate of 75%, Sarah has proven herself a force to be reckoned with. Clients love her and competitors fear her. Her nomination was top class and she is the driving force behind the continued growth at Blue Apple."
Eddie Fairish, senior commercial director, ISS
Rebecca Harris Green & Fortune
Maria Hazard Sodexo
Sarah Prentice Blue Apple Contract Catering
Dee Wilkinson Gather & Gather
Eddie Fairish Aramark
Duncan Kendall Restaurant Associates
Simon Houston Bartlett Mitchell
Chris Chidley Eurest
Lucy Wright Kings Place Events
Jonathan Davies Lindley Group
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