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Wholesaler Up Close: Castell Howell

In this wholesaler close-up, we talk to Martyn Simpson, New Product Administrator, Castell Howell Foods, about the company’s history and plans for further growth.

Tell us about the company’s history

The history of the company stems from Castell Howell Farm, Trevaughan, West Wales, in 1988. Brian Jones, a poultry and dairy farmer, started distributing his produce to local businesses. More than 30 years later, Castell Howell has a turnover of £130m and is one of the UK’s leading independent wholesalers.

The business, along with its associated divisions, now employs more than 750 members of staff, runs a fleet of more than 160 vehicles and sends approx 1,000 pallets of product a day to customers.

Formerly headquartered in Carmarthen, where they moved to in the 1990’s and where they still operate a cash & carry, in 2007, the business moved to a new state-of-the-art hub and head office at Cross Hands, near Llanelli, which today boasts 100,000 sq ft of storage.

Where do you operate?

We deliver to customers across Wales, the South of England and across the borders into Cheshire and Shropshire.

Our main depot is in Cross Hands and we have satellite depots in Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Chirk and Avonmouth. We have manufacturing divisions in Carmarthen, Cross Hands, Llandeilo, Pontyclun and Hirwaun.

Do you have plans for expansion?

The business never stands still and we keep on growing. We are currently investing more than £720,000 into the construction of a major new distribution centre in St Martin’s, Shropshire. This will replace our depot in Chirk which we have outgrown in recent years.

This development is strategically important as it will enable us to expand much further into England, as well as service more businesses in North Wales.

Who are your customers?

The core customers are food-led pubs, restaurants, hotels, hospitality groups, public sector caterers, workplace caterers and coffee shops.

In challenging times, Castell Howell aims to constantly evolve and aim to work with the supply chain to list a growing range of sustainable products.

What is your most popular product or range?

The summer months have naturally seen a surge in popularity of the Mario’s Ice Cream range, which is exclusively available through us.

In 2019, we launched Utterly Mutterly ice cream for dogs, which has been a huge success. Celtic Pride, our premium brand of beef and pork, which has full traceability from field to fork, continues to grow, as does our Celtic Pie Co range and cured meats.

What has been your experience of Erudus?

We’re proud to be early pioneers of Erudus. Our Operations Director, Matt Lewis is very forward-thinking in terms of embracing technology to improve various areas of the business.

He saw the benefits of Erudus when it was on the drawing board, and Rhian Levett worked closely with its development team to help trial it.

Our customers think Erudus is fantastic. They can throw away the product boxes they used to keep in the back room, as they now have access to a dynamic, up-to-date, filing system.

Erudus provides the answer to any question about ingredients and allergens, whether it’s vegan, halal or for particular intolerances. Suppliers are constantly updating the information and it’s available to customers at the touch of a button.

Castell Howell now has more than 2,000 customers using Erudus and we’re adding 60 to 70 more each month.

What has Erudus done for Castell Howell Foods?

For us, it’s a vital part of the business, alongside our web app and online ordering systems. Erudus is crucial for us to take our business forward.

It’s a fantastic differentiator that can set Castell Howell apart from competitors who don’t use it. It gives us a business advantage, especially due to its integration with our CH Ordering app.

We’re getting an increasing amount of interest in Erudus these days, as word spreads and gains momentum. It’s true to say that customers are amazed by the information Erudus provides and we’re delighted to have had involvement in its development.

“Our customers think Erudus is fantastic. Castell Howell now has more than 2,000 customers using Erudus and we’re adding 60 to 70 more each month”.