Olive Branch Catering Equipment has re-modelled into the OBCE Group to assist with business diversification.
The group consists of two divisions, Olive Branch Commercial Catering Engineers and Olive Branch Projects, to help inject ready cash flow into the company.
“Similar to many other businesses in the catering sector, our forte will always be projects, and if we are going to expect the projects delivered to increase in size, the finances need to be in place to back the ever demanding payment terms insisted by our building contractor clients,” explained Philip Alexander, MD of the OBCE Group.
“Historically we have always leaned heavily on our manufacturers as more often than not the contractors secure us into payment terms of 45-60 days. So OBCE can maintain a healthy cash flow position to grow the business we are introducing the catering equipment site and maintenance offering which will in turn speed up payments to our suppliers.
"This will also assist in strengthening our customer service reputation and help networking locally in and around the Suffolk/Norfolk/London counties.”
Although the company’s turnover fell by £250,000 in 2014, its profit margins rose by 9.8%. “Last year was always going to be about strengthening our foundations,” said Alexander.
“This demonstrates that chasing the turnover and any old project doesn’t always work, and especially minimising margins just to try and win a project from a competitor who will. We are looking for quality installations and businesses that expect our level of customer service.”
Last year the firm created its own full-time accounts department and added an operations director, who Alexander reported has “made a great difference to our health and safety processes and ISO-9001 compliance”.
The company also moved to new premises in Linton, Cambridgeshire, and this will house a presentation kitchen which is close to completion.
The firm’s forward order book is currently greater than its 2014 turnover and contracts are still being signed.
On the slate for this year are a £400,000 project at the School Of African And Oriental Studies in London, working from an Sefton Horn Winch design, plus a circa £390,000 order to fit out a catering facility and servery area at the Haberdashers Askes School for Girls in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
Further contracts for 2015 include a £180,000 project to fit out catering areas designed by Hepburn Associates at Warwick Business School, multiple projects at Birmingham City University totalling upwards of £440K, and an £80,000 specialist installation of a new servery designed by GWP for Cancer Research UK in London.
In the meantime, Alexander will also be training for the Iron Man triathlon in June, running for Gordon Ramsay’s GR100 (Gordon Ramsay Foundation) team. The overall target is to raise £2m for various charities, with Alexander aiming to raise £5,000 himself.