David Foad: You’ve announced the appointment of Jeremy Alderton as managing director ‘to take the business forward with me’. Can you explain that in a bit more detail?
Nick Collins: Cleverchefs has seen some remarkable growth over recent years and now is the right time to accelerate further into our chosen markets and across the regions of the UK where we believe we can excel and make the difference required in todays’ markets. We are reviewing the ‘go to’ strategy at the moment, although one thing you can expect is great food delivered by excellent chefs wherever you see the Cleverchefs signage in the future.
DF: Jeremy has long experience after working with Sodexo for more than 30 years. What will he bring to Cleverchefs?
NC: His depth of knowledge, experience and industry relationships were naturally an attractive proposition. The most desirable requirement of the Cleverchefs team is that everyone needs to be a true foodie and Jeremy, with his classical craft background and chef experience, allows us to keep a focus on what is important – the food.
He worked for seven years as managing director of Sodexo Education, responsible for catering services across UK and Ireland, and was an active member of the Sodexo executive team looking after a total business of more than £240m.
DF: You’ve also announced the creation of something called TECH. Can you tell us about that?
NC: With a well-reported shortage of quality chefs we all need to encourage and mentor people back into the kitchen. At Cleverchefs we have the passion to promote, develop and sponsor craft talent within the company while ultimately attracting and retaining great chefs.
The Elite Chefs Hub (TECH) will enable us to grow our team of talented chefs, who will receive training and development to enable them to be promoted through the organization. Not only that, but through the Hub we can help attract new talent, knowing there is a true desire to help train and develop the next generation of top chefs.
DF: How do you see TECH helping employees and the business?
NC: This is a development process for each cohort that Cleverchefs takes on and will enable every individual within it to flourish.
DF: Lastly, a topical question, what impact is the current economic climate having on the business?
NC: Food price inflation has hit everyone and, like any well-managed household or company, we have to plan our menus and buy seasonal well-priced produce to deliver our menus while maintaining our promises on costs and the use of seasonal British produce on all of our menus.
Fresh food remains at the heart of our business, and we carefully hand pick our suppliers to make sure they share the same food ethos and passion that we have.
We are not saying it’s easy. For us it means we are constantly reviewing food increases, buying at the right time, and making sure our menus are sustainable and affordable.