Head to head with Peter Green, director FusionFSM
So start by telling us a little about your career pre Fusion?
My world in hospitality started with a course in Hotel & Catering Management interspersed with an array of hotel jobs in the summer holidays and then I went straight into contract catering with Compass. Trainee Management, Relief Management, Group Management, Training Management…great grounding. Moved to ARAMARK as part of Vic Laws’ start-up team for the Wembley Stadium contract, where I spent a further three years running the stadium and arena - an incredible experience. Can you believe that when we started the average-spend on food and drink was 50p per head at a football match? Following a stint in B&I for the central region for ARA Catering before subsequently joining ISS to dip my toe in the NHS care channel. Then came the opportunity to set up a brand new contract catering business from scratch and Sovereign Catering (now OCS Catering) was born.
What was to follow was a huge transition to the other side of the table…FusionFSM.
What’s your elevator pitch for Fusion - you’ve only got 10 floors and it’s a speedy lift?
We are a privately owned business providing outsourced Sales & Marketing Services to suppliers into the foodservice marketplace; National and Regional Wholesalers, National Accounts, RaRa days, tactical sales, facilitating and running events, sales and promotional analysis together with research and insight services developing strategies for foodservice.
We see ourselves as a one stop shop for suppliers growing their business in foodservice. We have a wonderful team of enthusiasts who have an absolute passion for clients’ products and brands. Watch Anne Wright – my fellow director, in action and you’ll see what I mean!
When selling into wholesalers in particular, what are the most challenging barriers brands face today?
The biggest challenge is getting shelf space for your brand in the wholesalers warehouse…does your brand offer something different, new, unique, special?
The wholesaler will quite rightly say “why should I change or add your brand to my product list?”
Once listed the hard work starts – making sure that the Operators - Catering Managers, Head Chefs, Category Managers, Marketing Managers in Hotels, Contract Caterers, Universities, Hospitals, Care Homes, Schools, Pubs, Restaurants, Travel & Leisure outlets…. list and order your products. Quality brands win through and have a real and honest place in foodservice. It takes passion, hard work and drive to get your brand to stand out from the crowd.
Foodservice is a people business and is driven by relationships and we in Fusion are passionate about that and it is the cornerstone of our company.
In terms of current trends, what do brands need to do to achieve cut through with operators?
No doubt brands need to be innovative and bring a solution to the table for the Operator. High quality, healthy, fun, different, and there is undoubtedly a growing trend for allergen and gluten free products. Each sector has its own requirements: school compliant, nourishing for the elderly in Care Homes, high impact for grab & go, tasty scratch cooking style products, innovative products, that enable chefs to deliver quality without being labour intensive.
A great sales person should be able to sell ice to an eskimo, what is your greatest accomplishment in taking a product to market with great results?
I don’t actually agree with this statement. Eskimos do not need ice. You should only sell something to someone who needs the product otherwise it is short term and will have a whiff of being a con. Quality products that will add a business and menu benefit to an operator.
One of our highlights was launching the first carbonated school compliant drink in a can. We were representing a client that had a range of trendy flavours that was targeted specifically at teenagers in the Education sector. At the time no major Wholesalers thought the product would sell or remain in Foodservice long term. Fortunately we found a small niche Regional Wholesaler who agreed to work with us to push the product out to schools. Within 6 months of gaining our first win we were on a roll and competitors were starting to copy the range… it was a great feeling when the call came from the major Wholesalers asking to talk to us about listing the range.
Within 3 years, the brand we were representing, was bought by a major player in the drinks market. All client goals were successfully ticked!
If you were stranded on the M25 for 12 hours what products would you want in the boot of your car?
Oh what a nightmare the glorious M25! In the winter, I would want a flask of piping hot tea and some lovely bars of chocolate as a treat….in the summer, a compact freezer full of ice cream and a fridge with chilled water. Not much to ask for surely!