A top food wholesaler is rewarding frontline staff with bumper pay rises of up to 14% to help fuel ambitious expansion plans.
Harlech Foodservice – based in Criccieth in Gwynedd and Chester – announced they are putting up wages by an average of 5.37% for their 150-strong workforce with some employees receiving considerably more.
With lockdown restrictions easing, the company has launched a recruitment drive to take on 50 more staff when the new tourism season gets underway.
According to Mr Cattrall, they prioritised investing in front line staff as part of their drive to ensure excellent customer service.
At the same time, most senior managers, including managing director David Cattrall, are having a pay freeze.
The news comes hot on the heels of the appointment of five key senior staff who’ve been recruited to help increase turnover to more than £50 million over the next three years.
In the meantime, the company is also on the lookout for larger premises in the Chester area as a staging post to increase sales in the North West.
Mr Cattrall said: “We have concluded our annual pay review and despite huge challenges that Covid has created on the food service sector we are paying average increases of 5.37%.
“At a time when the minimum wage has only risen by 2.17% cent for over 25s, we feel we need to recognise and invest in our frontline people to ensure we retain important staff and ensure our excellent service to our customers is maintained.
“I would add that these increases are not across the board – the background to this is that most senior managers, including me, are seeing zero pay rises.
The increases have been met with delight by staff with accounts adviser Alana Pritchard, 25, from Y Ffôr, saying: “I’ve had about a 15 per cent increase.
“Considering the situation with the pandemic which must have made it a hard time for the business I really appreciate what they have done for us.
“I’m a local girl and it’s really, really hard to find that kind of pay locally, particularly at the moment, but Harlech are a lovely company to work for.”
It’s a second pay rise in 12 months for Gerallt Thomas, 26, a nightshift supervisor who has been with the company for six years.
He said: “I’ve had something like 14% so it was a bit of a surprise but the nightshift were pretty ecstatic about it.
“It is an excellent pay rise. It’s my second in the space of a year because I had an increase earlier and now this.”
He and his colleagues on the night shift pick the orders taken during the day ready for the delivery fleet to take out early in the morning – recently including regular consignments to food banks across the whole of Wales and into the border counties.
Gerallt, who lives with his girlfriend in Porthmadog, added: “We pick and pack the orders and make sure our customers get everything they ordered.
“My girlfriend and I recently bought our first house together and when I told her she was jumping all over the place.
“I enjoy working here. There’s a good atmosphere and a good bunch of lads on nights.
“Harlech do their best to look after us and they’re a very attractive company to work for.”
Susie Dickinson, 23, an accounts adviser who joined the company 18 months ago, said: “I had a 15 per cent rise and considering the times we’re in it is quite brilliant.
“I was really delighted because I wasn’t expecting anything so substantial. I really enjoy my job here, the people are brilliant.
“I live with my boyfriend in Afonwen and he was thrilled too because when you’re young and renting it can be quite difficult to save for a mortgage but this definitely helps.”
David Cattrall added: “In our pay review we prioritised the front-line roles that are important to our customers and who have been most affected by 12 months on 80 per cent furlough pay.
“Our Class Two drivers have seen an increase of 4.1%, this is important as they are the front line, the people our customers see.
“Warehouse Nightshift staff have had average increases of 12.76% because this is the team who pick customer orders with more customers choosing to order up to 10pm on our website.
“Account Advisors pay increased by 14.31% – they are the team our customers phone. They answer the calls, resolve any issues, advise on accounts and take the orders.
“The reason we can afford these rises is because we have worked on improving our systems and working practices during lockdown, for example by improving our e-commerce website which makes it easier for customer to search for products and see our transparent prices.
“We have also introduced routing software to manage six-day delivery scheduling and set up an integrated butchery system to manage stock from goods-in to customer delivery whilst ensuring farm to fork traceability.”