Woodward Foodservice, which employs 100 people at its distribution centre in Crawley, has signed a lucrative contract to supply food to Little Chef restaurants throughout the UK.

Under the three-year deal, worth over £12 million annually, Woodward will deliver food to the full Little Chef estate, comprising 230 outlets attracting 14 million customers a year.

The announcement comes as the People's Restaurant Group, owners of Little Chef, overhauls the brand, including the launch of a self-service Coffee Tempo! grab-and-go line. Woodward will supply 400 food products to Little Chef, and the restaurant chain's Coffee Tempo! concessions across Sussex, from its base in Fleming Way.

Nick Smith, development director at People's Restaurant Group, said: "Woodward has worked with national restaurant chains for a number of years and understands the dynamics of our business.

"With this expertise and its recent investment in a new fleet, the company is best placed to give us a highly efficient and flexible service. This is a textbook partnership, sealed at an exciting time for us."

Ed Hyslop, chief executive of Woodward Foodservice said: "We're very excited about working with Little Chef, it is one of the UK's best-known restaurant brands. The offering will change significantly this year, and we will be playing a key role in this.

"With our recent investment in a new, £9 million fleet of 150 vehicles, and continued expansion of our food product ranges, we're in a perfect position to deliver a high quality service to restauran chains and independents, who are working harder than ever for every customer pound."

Woodward, which has 14 distribution sites across the UK, supplies fresh fish and meat and frozen and chilled food to restaurants, pubs, hotels and schools.

It has increased turnover from £96 million to over £170 million in the past three years.

In August 2005, chief executive Ed Hyslop led a management buyout of Woodward Foodservice, with the backing of investment companies Baugur and Talden, and finance from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006