When Radford Chancellor began his own consultancy he had no contracts in place and zero employees on the books, just an instinct that the market was crying out for a wide array of specialist catering services. A decade on and the business is eyeing up expansion as it extends support to a raft of prestigious clients in the UK and abroad, as FEJ discovers.
It is easy to forget that when Radford Chancellor decided to launch his own independent catering consultancy in May 2009, the economy was only just recovering from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
But amidst the turmoil of falling house prices and sharp increases in unemployment, Chancellor always remained convinced that there was a gap in the market for the type of consultancy he planned. 10 years on, that belief has been vindicated, with the firm offering a raft of services, including catering equipment safety and efficiency audits, competitive tendering and kitchen design, that have become the backbone of its business.
Chancellor had accumulated more than 20 years’ experience in the catering industry when he set up the business, but that never meant it was going to be easy. Like a lot of start-ups, he began with no clients and no business reputation.
“The first three years were a time of building,” he explains. “Initially, the main aim was to get the business up and running, creating revenue and becoming a well-known and successful consultant, gaining an excellent reputation in the process.”
Chancellor worked solo in the business for the first five years before employing his first apprentice.
A year after that, James Bailey joined the consultancy as project co-ordinator and earlier this year he took on the post of key account manager.
“James looks after some high value clients and client training within the consultancy,” says Chancellor. “He has been rewarded for his hard work and is also now a shareholder in the company.”
Further manpower was added to the business in April 2019 when Jordan Dear, who has spent the past three years working in the industry as a chef, joined as project assistant.
The consultancy has certainly come a long way in the past 10 years and now counts a string of household names among its customer base. The 02 Arena, Manchester City Football Club, Oman Oil, Ministry of Defence, NHS and the IM Group have all commissioned it for vital work.
Radford Chancellor Ltd has also expanded beyond the UK, with projects in Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, USA, Gambia, Iraq, UAE and Oman. A scheme in Madagascar was even conducted virtually, at a distance, by online contact, telephone and emails in what perhaps serves as the ultimate endorsement of its integrity.
We evaluated bids from a number of leading international catering companies for catering, housekeeping and camp services in Madagascar — and no travelling was needed at all”
“We provided independent advice to our Madagascan clients as we evaluated the bids from a number of leading international catering companies for catering, housekeeping and camp services — and no travelling was needed at all,” says Chancellor.
The company relies heavily on maintaining good relationships with clients while ensuring top quality service and communications. Its theory is simple: if clients are happy and satisfied they will continue to use its services.
Up until early 2015, just one client provided half of the consultancy’s revenue but when that client ceased trading it was forced to diversify its customer base and that has done wonders for its growth.
Within two years net profit was up 30% and last year it increased 35%. The company’s target is to build on that with another 25% growth in 2019. Chancellor says the business has many future aims, all of which are underpinned by its core values of openness, honestly and equality. This includes investing in a new HQ.
“We are planning an office relocation to ensure a much better working environment. This would allow extra staff to join the business. As we move forward we aim to ensure the consultancy continues to grow, and to build a better relationship with more catering equipment manufacturers.”
In the current climate, keeping costs down is vital for both the company and its clients. The work it did for that customer in Madagascar could end up becoming a blueprint for future jobs.
“We plan to carry out more virtual consultancy projects, so keeping travel costs and time wasted at a minimum,” confirms Chancellor. “We shall continue to help our clients to look for sensible solutions to the many problems and issues which arise in the catering industry. Our aim will always be to meet their needs effectively and economically,” he adds.
As the firm raises a glass to toast its 10th birthday, Chancellor’s hunch that there was a gap in the market for the services it is now synonymous with looks ever more inspired.
Case study: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
With a seating capacity of 55,097 spectators, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium is among the top 10 largest stadiums in the UK. In addition to its main role as home to the reigning Premier League champions, it also hosts occasional concerts where audience capacity grows to 60,000.
As the main tenants of the stadium, Manchester City Football Club required a detailed assessment of all the catering facilities in the complex, with specification and budget requirements for asset replacement, including equipment.
Radford Chancellor Ltd assessed more than 200 catering locations including public kiosks and hospitality areas, together with kitchens and mobile catering units to create an up-to-date inventory. A detailed report was also provided to identify foodservice equipment that required replacement.
As part this project, Radford Chancellor was contracted as an expert in the field of kitchen efficiency, catering design and equipment resource.
Name: Radford Chancellor Ltd
Address: Greenfield House, 3 The Square, Storrington, West Sussex, RH20 4DJ
Tel: 0844 500 8350