The Olympic Games are very exciting for us. It's good that we have got customers supplying into the Olympics and it's great that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has recognised us and given us approval to supply into them. That is quite good in terms of kudos for the business.
We can deliver the business and it will be fantastic for our reputation. There are going to be so many people going into the events spectators and athletes that it is great to get our products out there to a much wider audience. It is really good to showcase what we can do.
We've already got quite a few project teams in place to manage our planning for the Olympic Games. This is possibly the largest event that we've done, so there is a lot of activity now.
We are quite comfortable about how it is going to work. Products are going to be manufactured across all our southern sites here, from our Colnbrook site near Heathrow Airport and from our Superior Food facility in Southall, which supplies fresh fruit, salad and vegetables.
LOCOG has contracts signed with contract caterers such as Compass, Sodexo and Aramark and we are supplying those individual accounts.
We have got the plans in place to handle the volume and we are quite comfortable with that. We have seven production lines on site, but don't use all of them all the time. Our site will be supplying over half a million sandwiches across the two events. Our other sites will probably be supplying similar quantities.
There will obviously be peak days when the volumes will be significantly higher and days when the volume is going to be less. All ingredients and materials used are going to be approved by LOCOG they are very keen on using ingredients assured by Red Tractor and biodegradable packaging.
Another benefit for us is that all the contract caterers will be working to the same product specifications, so all the raw materials and packaging will be the same.
The logistical arrangements for the Olympics will be slightly different from what we usually do.
Normally we would manufacture sandwiches here; tray and crate them up and send them to our regional distribution centre (RDC) at Colnbrook. The RDC would then pick products for distribution to our foodservice customers.
For the Olympics, however, it is slightly different because the time frames are quite narrow. We will be manufacturing, but also case packing on site. We'll be consolidating cases to send to the RDC where they will be picked by individual locations. So, basically, they don't have to case pick, which will reduce their time. Hopefully, it should make us more efficient since we can pack straight off the production lines. We will also be supplying into hubs up in Birmingham and in Reading. The logistics team have a got a very clear plan in terms of what the expectations are for the Olympics.
Food science background
My connections with this factory then known as Harry Mason Finger Foods go back to my university days.
When I graduated in 2001 with a degree in food science from London South Bank University (LSBU), I worked on a Teaching Company Scheme here for two years. I worked in a process improvement role while studying for a Masters in food safety at LSBU.
In 2003 I was offered the position of production manager, a role I stayed in for just over a year. I left to travel around south-east Asia for around six months and spent about three months in Borneo doing voluntary work. This was just before Brambles Foods bought the site, which was subsequently acquired by Food Partners in 2007.
When I came back, I soon ended up working for Food Partners. That was in January 2005 and I was employed as a shift production manager at one of our sister sites in Park Royal, near East Acton in London. Within six months I had become the senior production manager. I was at that site for about four years, for the last year-and-a-half as the operations manager.
Food Partners wanted to consolidate its manufacturing operations and the North Circular site was identified as the one to develop. Between December 2010 and March 2011 we closed the operations at Park Royal and transferred the business together with some equipment into this site. The main move took place over a two- to three-week period. A small amount of the business was also transferred to our Heathrow facility.
In 2008/9 we had opened an RDC close to our headquarters (HQ) and manufacturing site, both at Colnbrook. This allowed the business to make some strategic decisions. The first stage was to consolidate and centralise a lot of our transport. The picking operations followed. By transferring picking from this site to the RDC we had created extra space here in which we could invest in expanding our manufacturing operations.
Under Brambles Foods' ownership, two floors of this three-floor building were occupied. Food Partners renewed the lease for all three floors.
This enabled us to invest around £600,000 in new freezers and new chill spaces. We installed a second lift shaft and put in dock levellers to enable bulk transfer of goods using articulated lorries. Around 85% of what we produce now goes to the RDC. The rest is delivered directly to our customers.
From March 2011 our volumes had grown from around 350,000 sandwich packs a week to about 490,000. Last October we moved to 600,000 sandwich packs a week and that was a big achievement for us.
Since then we have developed the site further. Our refrigeration systems underwent a complete gas change last summer in preparation for compliance with the F-Gas regulations, which come in 2012. These require operators to convert to more eco-friendly refrigerant gases.
When we moved from Park Royal, we transferred over 30 of our staff. We now employ 260 people on site, topped up by about 15% agency staff a week. It took about six months to properly integrate teams of people from the two factories. We have about 28 different nationalities working for us and we have a multicultural management team as well.
The move has enabled us to develop our people and the processes we have on site. We have implemented some robust planning systems as well, which enables us to model how the factory operates better. It makes us a lot slicker when it comes to labour management.
As well as the three plants in southern England, Food Partners also operates factories in Middlesbrough and Kilmarnock and has RDCs around the country. In total, it produces around 1.8M sandwiches and 325,000 salads and fruit packs a week.
Food Partners' parent Adelie Foods (which also owns Buckingham Foods) recently received investment from India Hospitality Corporation (IHC) Global Foods, in what was IHC's first move into the UK market.
We are developing our own branded products Urban Eat. Urban Eat covers every category of bread-based sandwich, in cardboard packs and multi-pack thermoformed formats. An assortment of flow-wrapped items is also produced. These include 'sub' rolls, paninis, toasties, croissants and wraps.
Our aim is to become the number one food-to-go supplier.
LOCATION: Food Partners, Lords House, 665 North Circular Road, London NW2 7AX
STAFF: 260, plus 15% agency
OPERATING HOURS: Seven nights and six days a week in nine hour shifts, but "we are utilising the space 24/7 with a deep clean on Saturdays". Night shift: 9pm to 5.30am; clean down: 6am to 10am; day shift: 10am to 7pm, followed by an inter-shift clean.
PRODUCTS: The Urban Eat brand accounts for 60% of output, the rest is own-label. Products are made for catering outlets such as Caffè Nero and Starbucks. 600,000 sandwich packs are made a week, with around 440 stock keeping units made each day.
TURNOVER: £30M a year
NAME: Wes Jenkins
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: "The biggest challenge for myself and for the site was the move from Park Royal to here. That was successfully completed over a very short period of time and really opened up the potential for this site."
DOMESTICS: Lives with partner, Sara, who also works at Food Partners' HQ and is responsible for product and ingredients specifications.
OUTSIDE WORK: "As well as socialising with my friends, I have a couple of ferrets which are a bit of a handful! I also want to learn how to snowboard."