A new commercial partnership between cost reduction service Bank Brokers and procurement company BrightSourced will help hospitality and catering companies save costs across all areas to make them more robust, say the founders of both firms.
Bank Brokers, led by managing director Neil Fillbrook in the UK, has acquired a stake in the procurement business BrightSourced, allowing the two firms to operate as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for their clients.
Fillbrook told Hospitality & Catering News the move was a ‘no brainer’ after meeting BrightSourced founders Simon Smith and Richard Smith.
“We hit it off immediately,” he says. “We’ve worked with several procurement companies in the past, but we haven’t found one that’s as closely aligned to our values and way of doing things as BrightSourced is.”
Fillbrook said he and his team often found it difficult to ‘hand over’ their clients, who include Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurants, Grange Hotels and the Celtic Manor Resort, to another company after helping them cut merchant service costs.
“We will work on reducing financial and merchant services costs for our clients, but we are conscious that that’s just a small portion of their cost base. It just seemed to us that when a client has thanked us for helping them with that and asks if there is anything else we can do, we’ve had to say ‘no, you will have to go to other companies to help you there’,” he explains.
Richard Smith, who co-founded BrightSourced in 2012 with colleague Simon Smith, said forming a partnership with Bank Brokers was the ‘last piece of the puzzle’ for his growing business and has the dual benefit of helping them provide a full service to their existing clients while also providing additional services for Bank Brokers’ clients.
Last year BrightSourced acquired Utility Forum, a utility management specialist to enable them to cut utilities costs for their clients, who include Compass UAE, Orchard Valley Foods and Country Range.
“It means we now have the full suite of procurement solutions,” says Richard Smith. “We have been asked in the past about finance and it just enables it to spread the service.”
“Banking is a very specialist area and one we hadn’t offered before, so we needed a partner to be able to provide it,” adds Simon Smith.
“There aren’t many out there with the banking expertise Bank Brokers has and meeting with Neil just led to a natural partnership.”
The move will not only make it easier for hospitality and catering businesses to access a wider range of services, but also enables Bank Brokers and BrightSourced – now effectively sister companies – to enter new markets.
Bank Brokers, which has grown its presence across Europe since launching in Sweden in 2008, currently has no presence in the UAE or America, two markets well-known to the UK-based BrightSourced.
“Businesses aren’t just based in the UK any more, they are around the globe, so now we can help them in Europe, the UAE and America. This deal ultimately means we have a global footprint,” says Simon Smith.
For hospitality and catering companies, keeping costs down is an essential part of remaining in business, but with the market dealing with rising rents, rates and the impact of Brexit, the pressure is at an all-time high.
Fillbrook and Simon and Richard Smith believe the Bank Brokers and BrightSourced partnership comes at a time when the industry needs it most.
“We are in the business of reducing cost while maintaining quality, so it’s never a bad time to be looking at improving the supply chain,” says Richard Smith. “but I do think there’s some uncertainty around Brexit and so on that has created concern in the market place about where people are sourcing from and what they are going to be paying.
“It’s tough, but difficult times for our customers are good times for us,” he adds, emphasising that clients are only charged if BrightSourced saves them money.
Fillbrook believes hospitality firms will only see positive benefits from shining the torch into every area of the business and analysing them, which is a service his company can now proudly offer.
“I can’t recall it being more important to keep costs down than now,” he says. “In the hospitality and catering and retail sectors we’re seeing lots of clients under pressure and going out of business, but if they were able to prudently benchmark and reduce their transactional costs, whether it be on the financial side or non-financial procurement side it’s a very good thing.
“We can’t save businesses, but we can certainly make them more profitable and more likely to survive.”
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