The right products at the right price, with Pelican

Sponsored: Ian Findlay, Bursar at Bradford Grammar, discusses how he achieves a quality service whilst meeting the school’s annual catering budget

Catering forms just one part of my role as a bursar at Bradford Grammar School, however, the buck is with me to meet the catering budget, achieve best value from the market without compromising quality, while also complying with the relevant nutritional legislation.

There are challenges in doing this as I’m sure many other bursars would agree. We need to balance quality with cost, and to do this would require a detailed knowledge of the food and drinks market, pricing and managing suppliers.

My impression of the food business is that it is fast moving: prices are continually changing, pack sizes change, and availability of products varies too. I simply don’t have the time to go through every line item to validate each and every transaction and neither does my team. I would rather they concentrate on what they are there for, which is producing fantastic food.

Instead, I work in partnership with Pelican Procurement Services. They’ve been supporting the school in a number of ways for over a decade now.

Ultimately, the big issue for me is that I want to control costs, but maintain quality and Pelican has helped us to do just that. We have gone to tender for our food business twice, now coming up to a third time in the past five years, and by doing this it has saved us an impressive £33,000, which can be reinvested back into the school’s operations.

In fact, Sarah and Michelle from Pelican have become a real extension to our team. They are constantly monitoring our suppliers’ prices and invoices, overseeing product switching or sourcing alternatives when needed, as well as providing quarterly reports that are presented back to our board to demonstrate the way in which our catering function is intelligently handling the procurement.

On top of this, they make sure our suppliers are meeting the agreed service levels, set out by Pelican when retendering took place, while also monitoring our product compliance. So, for example, if they see that products are being purchased by the catering team outside of the contracted products, they renegotiate the prices and ensure they are added to our contract list.

They are our eyes and ears. They constantly monitor the market and understand the complexities relating to the fast-paced world of food commodities.  They have the specialism that we simply tap into. For me, it’s a valuable extension to our team.

A good example of what they are able to do is around price management. After the first three months of our new contract coming into place with a fruit and vegetable supplier, they put forward a large price increase. Pelican rejected the increase as they could see they were not in line with the wider marketplace. The contract was reviewed and awarded to an alternative supplier, which we are very happy with. They managed this from start to finish – something that would have taken considerable time if we were to try this in-house.

For me personally, I have comfort from the fact that we’re buying the right products at the right price. Quality isn’t compromised and we are ultimately receiving the best value. If I am approached by a parent, I can be fully confident in providing assurances that the food we are serving to our pupils, every day, is of a quality that we can be very proud of. It’s the peace of mind that I know many bursars are looking for!

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Bradford Grammar School Bradford Grammar School is an outstanding UK independent grammar school. The school provides an in-house catering service, which delivers between 900 and 1,000 meals every day. Today’s parents, and students themselves, are more aware of the importance of nutritionally balanced, quality foods and expectations on standards are high.


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