Rectory Foods ready for 2011 with group structure and move

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

UK poultry and ingredients firm Rectory is preparing for a new growth spurt with a move into a central Manchester location and a corporate restructuring to create Rectory Food Group as a holding vehicle for its divisions and brands.

Founded by CEO Charles Woolley in 1996, the chicken supplier branched out into frozen and dried ingredients two years ago to enable ready meal customers to buy more components from one supplier, at the same time as they buy the meat.

He also added beef and pork to the offering with the acquisition of Acura Foods; and in August opened a new division in Lithuania called Baltreka UAB to help cater to Eastern European demand, which now accounts for 10 per cent of sales.

Woolley said these moves “generate a family of brands, so it was a logical step to introduce an umbrella brand under which our various product offerings could sit.”.​ The restructuring is accompanied by an overhaul of the company’s corporate identity.

With turnover in the last year reaching GB£26m, the company is also shifting its headquarters from Cheshire to a central location in Manchester covering some 3990 square feet. The move is said to enable space for further expansion, and for new staff appointments in 2011.

“The expansion into new markets required additional staff to facilitate the growth, making a move to larger premises essential,”​ said Woolley, adding that daily efficiency and communication will be improved.

“The location of the new office will also give us improved national and international transport links, making it easier for our UK and international customers to visit us. The move will also bring some cost savings for the company overall and will allow us to tap into a highly skilled and experienced pool of potential employees.”

Recession-ready

Speaking to FoodNavigator.com in February 2010, Woolley said the company had managed the impact of the recession on business by taking early action.

“We anticipated the recession as much as we could,”​ said Woolley.

With the collapse of Bare Sterns and Lehman Brothers, “we took the decision to tighten up in credit control and credit management. We did anticipate issues with people who couldn’t get finance, and shed some customers.”

Woolley was also able to bring in some changes in the products offered. Noticing that the retail market was turning towards discounters, “we were able to source cheaper products that the market wanted,” ​he said.

As for branching out into ingredients, he said: “I felt the business was fairly vulnerable to fluctuations, as we can’t influence them. They are out of our control,” ​he said.

Ingredient offerings include lentils, sunflower seeds, broccoli, garlic and ginger

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