Page 5: Re-inventing Gardner Merchant
Gardner Merchant is building on its core competence of providing quality outsourced services to business, initially developed in the field of food services. By sticking purely to catering, it would have limited its markets and growth opportunities.
Over recent years it is the evolution into the full range of integrated support services that has most changed the face of Gardner Merchant. It has become one of the leaders in providing people-based support services. By listening to customers and anticipating business trends, the company has become a multi-service provider, a one-stop shop for its clients’ support service requirements. These include reception/concierge/switchboard, cleaning, porterage, mail room, reprographics and grounds maintenance services that are all delivered directly using the company’s own staff.
The expansion programme has followed a well-established strategy of forming niche businesses with specialist management teams. Through its Primary Management Defence Services business, for example, the company is leading the consortium responsible for one of the most complex outsourced contracts in the UK: to provide 42 separate support services at Aldershot Garrison, the ‘home’ of the British Army. The contract has clear parallels for the commercial market, where there are significant advantages to be gained from tightly-managed integrated service delivery.
Safegard is the country’s leading environmental health and safety consultancy. Healthworks designs and manages health, fitness and leisure facilities in the workplace. Keyline specialises in business travel services. Lockhart is the largest catering equipment supplier in the UK as well as being a leader in the design and installation of kitchens, completing one project every working day. One recent project was a kitchen installation for the new Pavilion at Lord’s - in time for the 1999 World Cup. Kelvin recently announced its merger with Universal Services to form the largest offshore catering and facilities management contractor in the continental European market.
The range of client requirements that Gardner Merchant meets is very wide indeed. At one level, it involves the major logistics skills needed to provide a full meals service for 30,000 people at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. It also means applying the same meticulous care and attention to detail for a small industrial cafeteria operation in Strathclyde, a nursing home in Southampton or a school in Sheffield.
Three out of every four FTSE 100 companies have appointed Gardner Merchant to provide cost-effective solutions to their employee or hospitality catering and support services. Some of these relationships have existed for 40 years or more.