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BaxterStorey: Oiling The Wheels of Business in Aberdeen

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BaxterStorey: Oiling The Wheels of Business in Aberdeen

October 21
20:07 2013
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When BaxterStorey Scotland was awarded the catering contract for Marathon Oil headquarters in Aberdeen in February last year, it marked a significant juncture in the company’s Scottish operations north of the central belt. As the latest addition to its growing portfolio of high profile contracts in the oil-and-gas industry, Marathon Oil represented a critical turning point for BaxterStorey. Up to that point – with three or four notable exceptions – the UK’s largest independent contract caterer had concentrated on winning the custom of medium-to-large organisations in the business-and-industry sector. Now, two years later, they have broadened their scope and are giving the seasoned players a run for their money and by all accounts the results from the past couple of years are looking very strong indeed.

The company’s enviable growth in the oil services sector is a byproduct of its flexible business model. As Regional Managing Director, it’s Jeremy Wood’s responsibility to grow the business organically north of the Border, and indeed north of the central cities: ‘We are a large organisation but we can cope just as easily with the demands of large-scale private sector clients as with small, specialist contracts,’ he explains. ‘From catering and hospitality to vending and facilities management, we are appealing to an increasingly large client base and are offering an array of different services. As a result, more and more organisations are trusting us to handle their catering operations.’ But in such a competitive sector, how do clients and facilities managers differentiate between one caterer and its closest competitors, particularly if several of them are operating with similar philosophies and resources? David Merson, Regional Category Manager at Marathon Oil, explains their rationale: ‘BaxterStorey has adopted a fresh approach, and their tender document and presentation were first class. ‘We got a good feeling about them from the outset and their open, transparent ideas and answers were refreshing; we felt they were on the same level as we were.’ And David was equally impressed with the company’s personable and approachable management team: ‘If you want to speak to decision-making personnel, they make themselves available and they listen to what we have to say.’ Now, almost two years down the line, David is confident that Marathon Oil made the right decision: ‘BaxterStorey were keen to offer something new, to update the food offering and to modernise the contract while simultaneously reducing the cost to ourselves.’ Featuring a restaurant, Costa coffee and retail shop, Grab and Go section, and hospitality and vending services, the three-year, fixed-price contract affords BaxterStorey the opportunity to demonstrate their flexibility in several key areas: ‘The main reason I think we won this contact is our food offering, first and foremost,’ explains Jeremy. ‘We have a very clear strategy on sourcing and preparing the best ingredients from local suppliers, and we have a reputation for the quality of our food. ‘In the restaurant, for example, we make all our dishes freshly each day, and Marathon Oil’s staff can pick and mix from the different sections.’ Food is indeed the main priority at BaxterStorey, and both Jeremy and his operations manager, Willie Massie (inset, with Gail Halliday and Iain Tack), are keen to create an atmosphere of openness and transparency around the clients and their own customers. Throughout all their UK contracts, the company insists on preparing everything on site using fresh food purchased from Scottish suppliers. From mains to sandwiches, and soups to smoothies, each dish is made from scratch: ‘We’re trying to make catering a special experience for the clients, and it’s the little things like presentation that contribute to the overall package,’ remarks Willie. ‘At the end of the day, our goal is to add a restaurant touch to the food we offer.’ With considerable investment from both client and contractor, the dining area at Marathon Oil has been refurbished and refitted, and now boasts a salad station, hot food counter, branded coffee bar and seating for around 180 diners. Utilising a fully automatic, dual-tariff cashless ordering system, employees are provided with a card which allows them up to £4 credit each day. This is then redeemed at the tills when they’ve chosen their meals, and if they require further refreshments they simply top up their accounts themselves. Behind the scenes, Marathon Oil’s management is pleased with the progress their new food provider is making: ‘With their freshly prepared meals and innovative offers, BaxterStorey are encouraging our staff to purchase more, which in turn drives the cost down for us through added sales,’ says David. And innovation is a key component of the BaxterStorey strategy: ‘Our enthusiasm for food and the use of fresh, local produce is what the company has built its reputation on,’ adds Jeremy. ‘A priority for us is to create an effective supply chain and to understand how we can overcome the challenges that local producers face when dealing with large companies such as ours.’ The new operators open for breakfast rolls at 7.30am each day, with the deli opening from 11am. Lunch is served five days a week from midday until 1.30pm, and offers a seasonal, weekly menu featuring freshly prepared produce that head chef Iain Tack prepares on site. Elsewhere, the Costa Coffee bar offers a variety of hot beverages expertly prepared by Catherine Boyes, one the rising stars of the BaxterStorey team. ‘Catherine moved over from the incumbent caterer,’ explains Willie. ‘We trained her up to be a qualified barista and she’s now one of our star performers. She’s knowledgeable, intuitive, helpful and a real credit to the team.’ Catherine’s progress is a clear reflection of BaxterStorey’s training policy. Each year the company invests thousands in personal development, and is committed to training staff up to the standards expected by their clients. With a dedicated development chef helping to train the workers in customer care and menu planning, BaxterStorey has witnessed a tangible improvement in the skills of their chefs: ‘The important thing for us is to get the right people on the ground,’ concludes Jeremy. ‘We made it a priority to retain as many of them as possible; it’s been a journey for them, and we’re very pleased with their progress so far. ‘At the end of the day, having a strong team with expert skills can only benefit the most important people to us: our clients and customers they serve.’

www.baxterstorey.com

This article has been edited from its original version. For the complete feature, please see Catering in Scotland magazine November/December 2011.

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Alex Buchanan visited the BaxterStorey Scotland team at Marathon Oil’s Aberdeen head office, and discovered a healthy appetite for their signature blend of high quality, freshly made meals and friendly, client-focussed customer service…

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