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Wholesaler Up Close: Phillip Dennis Foodservice

Philip Dennis Foodservice is a wholesaler servicing the catering industry, including pubs, schools, hotels, cafes and restaurants across the Midlands, Oxfordshire, and the South West.

The fourth-generation family business, which was first set up as a butcher’s shop more than 100 years ago, now employs a 250-strong team.

In this wholesaler close up, we talk to Philip Dennis foodservice national sales manager, Charlotte Casey-Smith, about the firm’s wide-ranging success.

Tell us more about Philip Dennis Foodservice

Archie Dennis founded the business as a butcher in Braunton, Devon, in the 1900s.

His son Philip joined the firm and developed the business into a fully-fledged foodservice wholesaler.

We supply a full range of frozen, chilled, ambient, and non-food products from our depots in North Devon, Oxford, and Brierley Hill in the Midlands.

Dennis Family Butchers runs to this day along with our own fishmonger, with both supplying a large amount of our meat and fish respectively.

What are your most popular products?

Products produced by Dennis Family Butchers and Fishmongers are very popular as they provide high-quality bespoke cuts, made to order, for over 2,500 customers.

For example, customers can call us and ask for a West Country sirloin steak, with the chain and strap off, cut into an eight-ounce portion and individually vac-packed – we will deliver exactly that, which is approved under a protected geographical indication (PGI) from a local farm.

We opened our Dennis Family Fishmongers in 2008, and it provides the same tailored service.

Chilled and dairy also sells well for us, including products from local brands like Rodda’s Clotted Cream to big name brands like Müller.

Who are your typical customers?

We supply lots of different businesses, ranging from restaurants to cafes, bars, and coffee shops.

We’re also the trusted supplier for large organisations including West Midland Safari Park and the University of Reading.

We have agreed a deal to supply Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, and will begin delivering to a newly constructed Hinkley building in December.

What sets apart Philip Dennis from its competition?

We’re as passionate about our food as we are about our customers – we have the knowledge and expertise not just to supply our customers but support them with inspirational ideas for their menus.

We work as a partner with them to ensure their business is successful, which in turn helps us develop and grow.

And as a company we’re always aware of new trends in the market, which means we can constantly provide customers with insight.

One of our strongest assets is our sales team, who regularly meet with suppliers, undergo training to stay at the forefront of the industry, and often come from a hospitality background.

What is the business’ plan for growth?

Our main growth is actually coming from our non-food range of environmentally friendly disposables and cleaning equipment.

Non-food is such a large area that is developing more and more, so we are keeping a close eye on that sector.

We’ve also experienced huge growth in ambient, as our customers have seen the value of making their own products, a trend that I think will continue across the industry.

What difference is Erudus making at Philip Dennis Foodservice?

Erudus is very easy to use, and we urge all of our customers to register with it.

As we become more involved in creating menus and recipes, it has become a major tool for making sure we know what is in each dish.

It saves the team a lot of time, and has highlighted how important it is to give customers clear data on their products, especially with allergen information being a big talking point in the media.