Steve Hobbs has become the chair of supplier trade association, FEA, while Simon Lohse, MD of Rational UK, takes over Hobbs’ previous role as vice chair.
Hobbs has set an ambitious agenda as the association looks to meet the twin challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit. He is director of Grande Cuisine and has spent the last 2 years as vice chair. He takes over the chair role from John Whitehouse, MD of First Choice Group.
“FEA has done important work over the past few months in helping both members and the foodservice industry as a whole deal with the ramifications of the pandemic,” said Hobbs. “We need to push on with that work to help our sector survive and recover in the coming months. On Brexit, we have to keep up the pressure on government in areas such as staying aligned to EU standards.”
However, he is keen to develop and strengthen FEA’s influence and involvement in other areas, too: “FEA has pushed the sustainability programme for many years, but I want to see us become even greener. I’m looking to promote more initiatives like Trees for Cities with our members.”
The pandemic has led to many more people becoming familiar with digital technologies and Hobbs believes FEA will grasp the opportunity to develop its activities online. “We are in the process of planning a series of virtual events that will offer a forum where operators can meet suppliers to find out about the latest advances and advice in areas such as FOG (fats, oil and grease) and connectivity.”
Indeed, FEA’s role in training and education will remain a focus, with the continuing development and expansion of the CFSP (Certified Food Service Professional) programme. Hobbs is a big supporter of initiatives such as the Principles of Foodservice scheme, which offers newcomers to foodservice a grounding in the basics they need to know. “It’s vital that we encourage and invest in the next generation of people coming into our industry,” he said. Hobbs expects a key change in emphasis will be FEA’s development of more online versions of these training programmes.
Closer to home, he is advocating the broadening of the base of the FEA council membership. “I’ll be delighted if, under my 2 years as chair, we achieve a better mix of gender, more BAME presence, and are able to encourage more younger members to step up to the plate,” he said.