20 Apr 2016
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Joe and Steph Popcorn sodexo

Working with Sodexo as a small business

This blog was created by Adam Sopher, Director of Joe & Seph’s, a small business which is a member of our Supply Chain Inclusion Programme with a foreword from Aoife Wycherley, Buyer & Sustainable Procurement Manager for Sodexo UK & Ireland.

As a large employer operating in a diverse society, we recognise a clear business case for prioritising diversity & inclusion – not just in our workforce but in our supply chain also. As part of Sodexo’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, we launched our Supply Chain Inclusion Programme in 2015, supporting 17 SME’s (small and medium size enterprises) that are owned by women, minority ethnic groups or social enterprises. Joe & Seph’s, producers of gourmet popcorn, was one such small business who are now supplying Sodexo as a result of the programme and here they share their thoughts on the experience….

In 2015 we were extremely excited to be invited to be a part of Sodexo’s brand new Supply Chain Inclusion Programme – the first of its kind and an amazing opportunity to put Joe & Seph’s Popcorn in front of a whole new audience.

We were always keen to work with Sodexo on a wider basis, and after a chance meeting with Aoife Wycherley at a trade show we were delighted to have the opportunity to pitch our gourmet popcorn to her for inclusion into Sodexo’s snack range.

The timing was perfect, given that Aoife and her team had been working on a new initiative to provide a platform to enable smaller businesses to work with Sodexo which coincided with the exact time we first presented Joe & Seph’s to the buying team. So after this initial meeting we very quickly joined the programme to get us in better shape to launch with Sodexo.

Adam Sopher, Director, Joe & Steph's popcorn

Adam Sopher, Director, Joe & Steph’s popcorn

The first part of the programme was an introduction session at Sodexo’s Southampton Row office, where we were given a comprehensive overview of the Sodexo business and the Supply Chain Inclusion Programme including the buying process, logistics and route to market. It was a great opportunity to network with other SMEs and share experiences – there was an incredibly diverse range of businesses too with everything from banana bread to wheat grass!

The next stage was to visit the impressive Brakes depot in Reading to learn about the logistics and operations involved in supplying Sodexo, via Brakes. We were quite taken aback at the size of the operation – the insight in to supply catering for the Rugby World Cup and Olympics was particularly interesting. There was a lot of detail to take onboard, however we had the opportunity to speak one-to-one with the logistics and operations team which was really useful.

Finally, we were invited to Salon Culinaire at Ascot Racecourse, where we had the opportunity to present Joe & Seph’s popcorn to a number of chefs, site managers and even some of the executive board from Sodexo! This was a brilliant opportunity to get the products in front of the right people, and to showcase just how different our popcorn is to others on the market.

Our products were first listed through Sodexo’s nominated distribution partner Brakes Group in November 2015, just in time for Christmas, and have been well received in a number of Sodexo sites like GSK, Unilever and Eton College.

Overall, the Inclusion Programme was hugely beneficial to our business – giving us a thorough understanding of what is required to supply Sodexo and highlighting where we could improve our own processes, and from Sodexo’s point of view working with smaller suppliers offered the chance to add extra quality and innovation to the supply chain, so a real win-win opportunity!

We are excited about continuing our partnership with Sodexo and working with them to grow our sales over the rest of this year.

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