Marc Bradley, the chief financial officer of BaxterStorey's parent company, Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), was named Young Finance Director of 2010 at the FDs' Excellence Awards. Janie Stamford finds out why
Caterer How did it feel to win the award?
Marc Bradley It was a really big surprise and really pleasing, not just for me but also for the team. WSH is a group of companies that picks up quite a lot of awards so it was nice to see the support services get some recognition.
Caterer What do you think set you apart from the competition?
MB In the past couple of years we've all faced very challenging economic environments. What set WSH apart is that while we made it more complicated for ourselves by acquiring some businesses, we were able to give a growth and success story. In the past year turnover increased by 10% and operations by around 30%. I don't think there are many businesses that have been able to tell that story.
Caterer What prompted the move into the food service industry?
MB Prior to WSH I'd been working in the restructuring world and also in an international environment, having spent a number of years in Hungary and Budapest. I used to get parachuted into companies with downward graphs, so it was nice to join a company where the graphs - the turnover and profitability - were going upwards.
The skill set you learn in a struggling business is equally applicable in one that is thriving. Either way, you need to identify the key drivers. My job is to make sure the support services are still able to deliver for the operators and obviously for other stakeholders.
Caterer How does it differ from previous industries you've worked in?
MB The relationships we have with our stakeholders, banks and clients are completely different to what I've experienced in the past. Contract catering is a very low margin industry, so you've got to make sure you understand it. I've got a strong team who work for me and a strong team of operators. We publish our annual accounts as soon as we can. However, one of our limitations as a PLC is we don't have a public forum with which to publish our results, but as soon as they're ready we fire them at Companies House so that people can see them.
Caterer What do you think of the coalition Government?
MB I've been reading all the articles on the coalition with great interest, but I think it's too early to tell. The big issue for us will be what happens in the emergency budget on 22 June. We certainly need to start tackling our problems with the deficit, but I'd really like to see some clarity on what the financial situation actually is because the uncertainty is worrying for the business world. I believe there will be an increase in the VAT rate, which will certainly impact us in terms of the tariffs we will charge. It will make it tougher for us and we will have to improve our competitiveness.
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