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Spring Walkabout for Stornoway

A Williamson Walkabout trade event comes to the Western Isles on 14th March for the first time. Customers and prospective customers from Lewis, Harris and the Uists will have a great chance to find out more and see and sample hundreds of products from 40 of our key food and drink suppliers who hail from all over the UK. Entry is for the trade only and bookings can be made quickly and conveniently at www.foodwalk.co.uk.

It means those suppliers represented, many of whom are Scottish or local to the Highlands and Islands, will all be under one roof at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway. Several of these will attend the event in person providing demonstrations, offering free tastings and highlighting the key benefits of their products.

A wide selection of goods from artisan cheese, craft beers and premium soft drinks to an array of catering ingredients, wines, beverages, essential kitchen supplies and cakes will be on offer. A fresh produce display will also be on show.

The event is aimed at anyone from the Western Isles catering, hospitality and retail trades and is free of charge. Hotel, restaurant and café owners are therefore welcome to attend along with their staff which can include chefs, bar staff and cleaning personnel.

All suppliers will offer a one-day only rich promotional deal that provides excellent value for Western Isles businesses currently planning their Spring and Easter offerings.

The Western Isles Walkabout is a thank you from Williamson’s to its valued customers. As well as free samples, tasters and a goody bag, high quality catering and hospitality is provided throughout the day and recognises the fact that several customers will travel significant distances to the event.

The Western Isles Walkabout trade event will also help those coming along to understand the diversity of the Williamson’s range which now extends to over 3,000 product lines from dozens of different suppliers.

Many of these are Scottish or local to the Highlands and Islands which visitors and consumers are increasingly interested in. Other suppliers from the rest of the UK offer premium quality and great possibilities for Western Isles businesses to increase their value and profitability.

With the Highlands and Islands attracting wider global attention as a destination of choice, 2018 has every chance of providing another great opportunity to grow the north’s hospitality and catering sector with Williamson Foodservice standing by to help service this.

Our growing fleet of 30 vehicles cover everywhere from the Western Isles, Skye, Lochaber and Ross-shire to Inverness, Moray, Caithness and Sutherland and parts of Argyll. We have a Stornoway depot serving hotels, restaurants and cafés as well as independent retailers and others involved in the area’s catering trade.

Those attending can also catch up with others from the trade, network with new businesses or simply chat to Williamson’s staff and suppliers about their future plans or requirements in a specially designated meeting area.

Doors open at 10:30am on Wednesday 14th March 2018 at the Cabarfeidh Hotel. Entry is by ticket only and early booking is recommended which can be made easily and securely at www.foodwalk.co.uk

For further information call us on 0345 450 8888. We look forward to seeing you there!

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MD’s update – February/March 2018

Spring is on the horizon and we’re looking forward to a busy 2018 season on a number of different fronts. These include several operational improvements including a six day a week, Monday to Saturday delivery service to the Fort William and Lochaber area and Williamson Walkabout trade show events in both Stornoway and Fort William. Our most recent promotional brochure is also just out covering February and March.

The two trade shows are planned for Stornoway on 14th March 2018 and Fort William on 25th April and we look forward to welcoming as many customers and prospective customers as possible to these events. You can already book on to the Stornoway event at www.foodwalk.co.uk. Details for Fort William will appear here too when more information becomes available.

We will have around 40 suppliers either attending or represented at each show who together offer hundreds of products. They are a good example of the 3,000+ lines we carry overall as a foodservice business. These include craft beers, fruit and vegetables, an extensive ingredients range, coffee, cakes and premium drinks amongst others.

Plenty of samples, free hospitality and of course a goody bag should enable these trading days to be a success for everyone involved. By attending in person there will be plenty of special deals available too so please take advantage of this opportunity to come along, find out more about what we are about, grab yourself some early season bargains and establish how we can help you achieve your hospitality, catering and retail objectives.

Having experienced a record breaking year in 2017, we are also currently re-designing our internal systems to ensure picking, packing and deliveries are even more efficient and comprehensive to service our customers’ best interests. A good example of this is that customers in the Fort William and Lochaber areas will have a Monday to Saturday delivery service, six days a week starting from 12 February. We also plan to add to our fleet of modern refrigerated vans and trucks soon to ensure all orders reach you as fresh and as quickly as possible.

Our regular bi-monthly promotional brochure has just been launched covering February and March. It contains some special deals which I’m sure our 1,200+ customers from across the Highlands and Islands will appreciate. This particular publication has been produced with a distinctive local and Scottish theme championing our ongoing commitment to provenance. Salmon, yogurt, artisan soft drinks and snacks all feature strongly aside local cheeses and craft beers. You can download a copy here.

We are continuing to work closely with our recent supplier success stories namely Fentimans and Café Express who are both featured in our recent brochure. We expect increasing numbers of customers to continue to be drawn to these premium brands that offer great value and margin possibilities while delivering fantastic taste your customers are sure to enjoy.

Finally, several of our customers have in the past asked about a regular produce stock update. Over the last few weeks we have trialled a new, daily system on the Twitter social media platform which lists common products and provides a brief commentary about the current market for fruit and vegetables. This can include what’s in season, what’s eating well and any other information we feel might be of interest like price changes or availability. The overall aim is to help our customers plan, achieve best margin and deliver a high quality customer experience. Please do follow us on Twitter to ensure you get this daily update.

Thanks for reading and whether you come along to one of our trade shows in Stornoway or Fort William or engage with us for the first time this year as a new customer, I look forward to meeting and speaking to as many of you as possible during 2018.

Best wishes.

Gary Williamson
Managing Director

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Williamson Foodservice Sponsored Schools Masterchef Competition Concludes

Four secondary school children from Inverness and the surrounding area showcased their culinary skills recently in front of an audience of 80 people as the final of the Schools Masterchef competition concluded at the Inverness College UHI, Inverness Campus.

Organised by the Rotary Club of Inverness Culloden and sponsored by Williamson Foodservice, previous heats and a semi-final saw four competitors emerge as finalists. The competition encourages and develops culinary skills in young people and provides a platform for those who may wish to enter the hospitality trade.

Lady Claire Macdonald from Kinloch Lodge Hotel in Skye and Michael Smith from the Loch Bay Restaurant in Skye were judges for the night that saw Lucia Savage from Millburn Academy win through and claim the title of local Schools Masterchef 2017.

Eric Milne, President, Rotary Club of Inverness Culloden said: “We aim to encourage young people to learn how to cook healthy meals and develop effective organisational, planning and food presentation skills.

“Local chefs who have participated in earlier rounds of the competition as judges openly shared their enthusiasm, advice, skills and kitchens with the finalists and I am very grateful to them for their participation.

“I would also like to acknowledge Inverness College UHI for providing such an excellent venue for the final and to Lady Claire Macdonald and Michael Smith who travelled from Skye to judge the finalists’ dishes.”

As the north’s leading full service food and drink wholesaler Williamson Foodservice sponsored the competition with essential funding and have been actively involved in the competition for several years.

Managing Director of Williamson Foodservice Gary Williamson said: “Standards have been exceptionally high this year and the Schools Masterchef competition creates vital linkages between education, hospitality and the wider food and drink industry. Learning basic skills and understanding more about the food around them helps serve young people well whatever career path they choose to follow.

“Hospitality is a lynchpin of the Highland economy and we are keen to encourage more people like these talented contestants to consider it as a career option. This will provide hotels, restaurants, cafés and other catering establishments with a high quality labour pool to draw from as the sector continues to grow.”

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MD’s update – Christmas 2017

Now that Christmas has come well and truly onto everyone’s food and drink radar, I’m sure chefs and cooks from hotels, restaurants, cafés and caterers around the Highlands are finalising their festive menus and offers.

To help with this, our packed Christmas brochure should currently have arrived through the post or with recent orders. We have more products in this publication than any other with nearly 300 lines included. To make your buying decisions for the festive period as straightforward as possible, we have also categorised some pages into themes to make comparisons easier.

For example, if you want to know which drinks mixers are available, the options can be viewed side by side. Likewise, putting a cheese board together is easier than ever as our double page spread on local, UK and Continental cheeses are featured. As usual, whether we are championing craft beers or artisan cheese, our emphasis is always on local products and producers.

A special craft beer feature highlights a selection of hand-picked ales offering certain characteristics, for example, a best seller or seasonal feature. Whatever you choose, there is impressive strength in depth and something there for every taste. A range of good quality and great value wines from Oliver & Greg’s are available including Prosecco and single serve options covering several popular varietals. A new cloudy cider from Thistly Cross also adds to a diverse and high quality offering from this award winning supplier.

Now that the Christmas party season is in full swing, we expect more people than ever before will be asking for non-alcoholic and healthier drinking options.  Several pages of premium soft drinks catering for different market segments, tastes and price points are therefore included. We have also created a blog on how the cocktail/mocktail market can benefit your bar trade, so do take a moment to review this useful article to find out how your business can benefit from these latest trends.

With special food and drink requests becoming increasingly common, an array of products from cakes and cheese to beer and bouillon are also featured in a special health, dietary and food intolerances section. These cater for vegetarian, vegan, coeliac and dairy free diets and provide informative and inspiring ideas for your festive food offering.

Underlining the growing diversity of products in the Williamson’s line up, we have added paté and salmon to the brochure this year and these offer additional, high quality and profitable options for customers. With produce and ingredients featuring highly when planning Christmas menus, please speak to our sales staff as early as possible so we can help make your festive period a successful one.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to a member of staff who sadly passed away recently. Peter Black, who worked in our sales team for 30 years and will be fondly remembered by both staff and the many customers who knew him.

 

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