How did you decide to move into food logistics, specifically in the hospitality and catering sector?
I was running a design and build company when I won a contract to work on Westminster Council Schools. Every time I went to the school site to inspect the work, I would see big lorries, delivering food, parked on double yellow lines getting tickets. I often wondered to myself ‘how much profit were they making’ when you count up the costs of those tickets? It gave me the idea to use smaller vehicles that we could park in bays and thereby negate the parking tickets.
What services do you provide for the sector?
We provide logistics services, such as food and supplies, to wholesalers, caterers and retailers, food manufacturers.
It is essentially food logistics and distribution, delivered through a number of specialist brands that all serve the hospitality industry.
We have a state-of-the-art fleet of multi-temperature vehicles. This means that the goods we deliver arrive at exactly the right temperature, be that ambient, chilled, frozen or hot and ready to eat, regardless of the weather outside.
Our Foodmove brand focuses on the commercial sector, Platebox is dedicated to education and public sectors while Repco specialises in the food delivery to remote locations for the oil and gas industry.
How has Covid impacted your businesses?
Like any hospitality provider, we have been impacted by the reduced capacity in the sector. We support foodservice businesses as well as restaurant groups, so it hasn’t been a great time.
However, we have adapted like most businesses and have pivoted into other areas to support our clients and customers wherever possible. For example, we increased our capacity for our retail clients to serve their home delivery customers.
What are the challenges you see in the wholesale space?
Outside of Covid, the big challenges are around technology and e-commerce. Delivered services are set to become a greater player in the market but the challenge for the sector is creating efficiency, making a profit and meeting the increasing number of demands of our customers.
Perception is also an issue. Two or three years ago, if someone ordered something online, they’d get it in a few days and that would be fine. Now, if they order today, they want it today. People want things now and that applies to wholesale. This won’t change and will only become more necessary. It’s an opportunity for companies who can get this right.
What are the challenges in the foodservice space?
Even before the pandemic, the emerging world of delivery is disrupting the sector in lots of ways. Businesses need to justify the cost of having an asset versus putting a delivery-based model in place. We could end up living in a world where delivered makes up a larger proportion of revenue versus assets. Sales are migrating to delivered, but they are not increasing as a whole.
Labour and property costs will be a challenge too. There’s a growing need to move to hub kitchens as a result so I think we will see more of these. And then there’s increased purchasing costs as everyone seeks to reduce their impact on the environment. This affects the price of raw materials.
Your business focuses on using unique technology systems. How important is this and what do you see as the key for future growth?
This is a cornerstone of our business both now and going forward. Technology allows us to be agile; to remodel our business constantly. It means we can change direction and refine our business plan as the world around us changes. Technology allows us to track delivery, engage with customers and our teams, and it also helps us become more nimble when route planning.
We are actually looking at a number of new innovative tech solutions and hope to be able to announce some significant news shortly around a piece of tech we are looking to invest in.
You are involved in a lot of work outside of your ‘day job’ – why do you do this?
For me, as a business leader, it’s important to give back to the community. Growing up in London, I know how important it is to help young people become a better version of themselves; one that can contribute to society. Education played such a big role in my life. It helped me understand that the world really is my oyster. Education is the ultimate tool for social mobility so anything I can do to help young people achieve their potential really pleases me.
You were named as one of the most influential black people in Britain in the recent Powerlist – what did that mean to you?
It’s important that these things exist as it helps raise awareness of issues. And obviously I’m very proud to be among some big names such as the Duchess of Sussex, and David Lammy MP. It’s really important to celebrate successful BAME people, but not just in the world of sport and celebrity, but also in hospitality and business as a whole.
What’s next for GV Group?
We will continue to focus on technology. We’ve always maintained that we need to keep moving. We feel we are actually in a unique position that enables us to drive (excuse the pun) some major change and efficiency in the sectors in which we operate. Our clients are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of this model to support their growth.
We are also very aware of some of the wider societal issues that Covid and the lockdown has caused some communities. Given our work in the education sector, we see first-hand how the lockdown will have affected some young people when it comes to their learning. We are looking at a number of options to see how we can play a part in helping these disadvantaged groups get back up to speed.
H&C News would like to thank Tevin Tobun for his insights and we look forward to speaking again soon.
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