Belfast Telegraph

Ten Key Questions: Providing a service second to none

Barry Ambrose, account director, Sodexho Food and Facilities Management Services

How's business?

Busy. Sodexho in Northern Ireland is part of the UK & Ireland division of Sodexho Alliance, one of the world's biggest provider of food and facilities management services.

Busy. Sodexho in Northern Ireland is part of the UK & Ireland division of Sodexho Alliance, one of the world's biggest provider of food and facilities management services.

At present the division is growing with new contracts, notably in the defence, leisure, healthcare and seniors markets.

Any exciting projects in the pipeline?

In the public sector (Northern Ireland Civil Service) we are moving towards partnering one of the final two bidders in the Workplace 2010 initiative.

This will entail the successful bidder purchasing part of the Civil Service estate, refurbishing as appropriate and leasing back on a fully-serviced basis.

We've planned a series of key communication messages in our restaurants which will promote healthy eating habits and highlight the quality of the local ingredients used in our menus.

'Healthwise' is Sodexho's philosophy and is used to educate and inform our teams to incorporate the latest guidance and knowledge into menu planning.

What are the long-term prospects for your company?

The move towards integrated facilities management (IFM) is a particularly exciting one and Sodexho is leading the way in providing bundled solutions for our clients offering not only a core catering service but cleaning, reception and post-room to name but a few. Around 40% of our turnover comes from delivering non-food services.

What are the biggest challenges facing your organisation?

The historically high value of the pound against the dollar is a big challenge.

The nature of our business is to provide services for organisations in the public and private sectors within Northern Ireland and within the global context.

The local client companies which we partner provide significant levels of exports to the USA. The current situation is a challenge to their competitiveness with implications on sales and staffing, and knock-on effects on budgets for catering and support services from companies like ourselves.

Another challenge is the plan to reduce the size of the public sector. This will, of course, depend on the attitude of the new Assembly and the Review of Public Administration.

Could the government help you to do business better?

Like virtually all companies, Sodexho would like to see a reduction in Government red tape, freeing us to take advantage of the opportunities created by a changing economy.

If lower company taxation or fewer restrictions on development benefit our clients, Sodexho would also benefit.

Why would someone work for you?

Joining Sodexho means becoming part of a global market leader in food and management services, with an annual turnover of nearly £9bn.

What makes us a thriving business is the diversity of our people. We combine their talents to deliver services that enhance our customers' quality of daily life.

Sodexho is a company where professionalism, enthusiasm and passion are valued highly. The company is committed to development to enable all employees to achieve recognition.

Your views on the economy, please.

Northern Ireland is finally benefiting from an increased confidence in the business sector as a result of stability.

The recent announcement from Ryanair regarding new routes from Belfast City Airport, and the move by Aer Lingus to create a hub at Belfast International, is evidence of this.

The business climate – good or bad?

Overall, it's good, although this depends on how the current challenges are met.

What ambitions do you have on a personal level?

In operational terms, my role is the most senior in Northern Ireland. The company continues investing in my development which enables me to support our business strategy in the province, so I am fully committed to any future career developments that deliver the goals.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I am very fortunate to have weekends off. My children are now grown up so my wife Dawn and I have more time for each other.

As a former chef I have a love of food, and enjoy both eating out and cooking at home. There's nothing more relaxing than having the kitchen to myself, iPod and beer at hand, preparing a meal.

I also like researching and planning holidays, pottering about in the garden and simply chilling out whenever it is possible.

Belfast Telegraph