Bestway has revealed plans to become a major delivered foodservice provider.

Catering lines currently account for about 5% of Bestway's turnover but the wholesaler intends to grow its share of the market and set up a dedicated foodservice division.

The wholesaler has been making trial deliveries to independent restaurants, takeaways and pubs from some of its depots for nearly a year and plans to roll the service out to all of its 54 depots. It has also been testing a new online ordering service for caterers, which it will roll out next month.

"We have had some success in catering in the past few years our volumes are up. We have big plans for it and are looking for organic growth," said group CEO Zameer Choudrey. "In the long run, providing the business continues to come in, we will set up a foodservice division."

For now, Bestway will concentrate on supplying independent customers from individual depots, but as the business grows it could start to service national accounts, including those in the public sector.

Choudrey said his aspirations were not tempered by a recent Rabobank report that showed a reduction in foodservice volumes as people chose to eat out less. "Catering is a boom sector for us," he added. "Over the past five years volumes are up and the long-term trend is for growth, particularly in London."

Since 2005, when it took over Batleys, which had a strong catering range, Bestway has enjoyed healthy sales growth, expanding its catering range across all depots, increasing its chilled and frozen capacity and introducing specialist butchery counters into many depots. Last year Bestway also launched Essentially Catering, a magazine aimed at the catering market.

The growth in catering helped Bestway Group to break through the £2bn sales barrier in the year ending June 2009. The wholesale business reported sales up 5.2% to £1.9bn with pre-tax profits up 16.8% to £39.9m.