The business of re-invention
A Gardner Merchant case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Gardner Merchant 5 Image 3Today we live in a highly competitive world in which only one thing is certain for companies - change. Intelligent companies continually seek to adapt in order to seize new opportunities that arise. Entrepreneurial organisations transform themselves, this is known as re-invention.

An entrepreneurial organisation looks for opportunities to use all resources more effectively. An organisation with an entrepreneurial culture will actively seek change and be quick to respond. It will be ‘market-led’ and prepared to take risks. For this to be possible, the organisation must have a flexible structure that enables re-invention.

This case study examines how, in the late 1990s, Gardner Merchant re-invented itself from a position of contract caterer in business and industry to become a true multi-service provider, capable of satisfying outsourcing requirements for a wide range of people-based services.

Gardner Merchant is a member of Sodexho Alliance. Sodexho is the largest food and management services company in the world, with a global turnover of £6.3 billion Euros, operations in 66 countries, 250,000 employees and 18,700 operating units. Gardner Merchant is the UK operation of Sodexho and focuses on local delivery of service on a site by site basis, with 50,000 permanent staff at 3,500 client locations providing catering and support services.

The 1990s saw the transformation of most large companies in the United Kingdom. Previously, companies grew very large, employing great numbers of people and managing services such as security, building facilities, public relations, and transport.

Following a turnaround in business thinking, organisations started to downsize, to strip out non-core activities and concentrate on their strongest assets. Large companies began to outsource many of their non-core activities - they used outside contractors to provide them with goods and services which were not part of their core business. This created a tremendous opportunity for companies to concentrate on meeting the requirements of large companies for specialist services.

Gardner Merchant | The business of re-invention