Employee ownership has brought huge benefits to Parfetts, says chairman Steve Parfett

On Friday 29 June everyone at Parfetts celebrated Employee Ownership Day 2018. As we started the journey into employee ownership in 2008, our 10th anniversary was a special celebration, with colleagues pulling out all the stops and involving customers in the party.

Many readers will know I am a huge advocate of the employee ownership model, and I have no regrets about our decision to choose this route for the Parfetts business. The only downside of the decision was that the borrowing the business took on to effect the transition meant that we could not consider any major expansion opportunities during the past few years.

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During this time David Grimes, Greg Suszczenia and their team have done a superb job of developing our Gold (Go Local Delivered) service from first principles, starting slowly from Sheffield and ensuring at every step of the way that we were testing the service levels we could achieve while gradually taking on more customers, vehicles and experience every week. They have done this so successfully that Gold is now the equivalent of another successful depot.

The success they have achieved, both in this and in their leadership of the company during the transition period, now means that we have had the opportunity to expand once again. We have done so by the acquisition of the Blakemore Middlesbrough depot and it is both exciting and appropriate that we have completed our first week of trading in this special week. While everyone will feel sadness for Blakemore employees in depots that have closed, we have found a motivated and enthusiastic team of colleagues to welcome into the Parfetts family as employee owners.

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This is a depot I have known and admired for many years – it was originally a Tyne Tees Cash & Carry depot run by our great friends the Ahmad brothers as part of Landmark Wholesale. Robert and I considered acquiring it years ago, but at the time felt that it was a step too far in distance from our heartland. The fact that the senior team we chose to succeed us in running the business have the courage, energy and commitment to take on this new challenge shows just how right we were to trust them to take the business forward. They have ensured that we have all the systems in place, both trading and operational, to quickly make the depot a Parfetts Cash & Carry. In doing so I am confident that it will have the trading style that under Tyne Tees made it such a success.

Steve Parfett is chairman of AG Parfett & Sons