As 2016 draws to a close and we all get ready for Christmas, Arpal Group reflects on what has been a jam packed year of business activity and change. It is fitting that all of this has been done against the backdrop of the UK parent company’s 125th anniversary in business and the 20th birthday of Arpal Gulf LLC in Dubai. Max Adam, Sales & Marketing Director, takes us on a whirlwind summary and looks forward to 2017 with gusto.
In February, as we celebrated our 125th anniversary, our new corporate identity and company logo were launched. Designed to reflect Group ambitions in the UK and overseas markets, the brand message was enhanced to reinforce our total commitment to outstanding levels of customer service, defined by the strapline ‘where service matters most’.
In February, we went live with our highly successful e-Learning training module. Over 6,000 trainees have already signed up this year alone. In 2017, the module will be revamped to build a more comprehensive course with versions available in Arabic and Hindi for Arpal Gulf and Arpal KSA in Saudi Arabia.
We were also delighted to welcome three new people to our sales team this year, Bradley Newham in Dubai, John Elmes and Ian Way in the UK. Arpal Gulf also opened a new branch office in Barsha Heights, Dubai.
In terms of new business activity, 2016 has been a very successful year both in the UK and Gulf region with the landmark Etihad Airways deal in March together with the added bonus of Arpal Gulf being recipients of the “Partnership in Excellence” award at a procurement event held by the client in June.
In September, we reported that Arpal Group had also moved into the top 100 Scottish SME business ranking (77) in the Business Insider’s Top Scottish SME300 index. In November, we were shortlisted for Family Business of the Year at the Scottish Business Awards in Edinburgh; and in December, we were delighted to receive the International Growth Award at the Herald Family Business Awards held in Glasgow.
Both companies have continued to see impressive growth in the independent catering sector through our distributor network in the UK and on a direct basis in Dubai. There has been a late charge by the UK company winning three major care home groups in the last quarter of 2016. This will ensure that 2017 starts with a bang with several other major groups targeted for Q1 next year.
One of the more impressive facets of the business this year has been the work put into renegotiating extensions to a number of major existing contracts in the UK valued at £16 million to 2020. These provide a superb launch pad for keeping our five year growth plan well on track. The sales teams have been very successful in ensuring that new business gains are not compromised by losing existing business.
In the summer of this year, we formally addressed our Corporate & Social Responsibility activities with a long-term commitment to the Brakes Meals & More charity In the autumn, we signed up as a Scottish Living Wage Employer and for the Scottish Business Pledge. These culminated with a visit to our factory by Calum Kerr MP.
From a capital investment perspective, the UK operation completed its warehousing reconfiguration and expansion project in March increasing our storage capacity by 40% in line with sustained business growth. In April, the UK’s new powder plant was opened. We have also spent a considerable sum of money replicating this operation by upgrading our powder production facility in Dubai. Looking forward to 2017, we are now ready to take delivery of a new multi-head filling machine providing the UK operation with a further 2 million litres capacity.
Early in the New Year, we will be publishing a new Group brochure and product catalogue. This is the first time we have brought all Arpal companies and affiliate brands together into one publication. We are also well on our way to finalising a new UK company video, a cradle-to-grave journey from production through to customer. Indeed, now that we have completed our stakeholder video series, we will be looking to our YouTube channel next year as a main social media platform for training clips and company information.
We would like to thank all of our customers, distributors and suppliers for their continued support of the Group in 2016. We wish you, your staff and families a wonderful Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
Finally, to the Arpal Family: Take a well-earned rest, thank you for your unbelievable contribution in 2016, so re-charge the batteries and get ready for another barnstorming year.
Happy Christmas everyone.