Nestlé Malta catering division wins 300 clients in first year

In just 12 months of operation, Nestlé Professional, Nestlé Malta's "alternative trade channel" serving the catering industry, has clinched 300 clients and built a portfolio of over 75 dedicated products, marketing manager Alfred Borg told The Times Business.

And despite the challenges the sector faces this year, the first quarter looks equally promising, Mr Borg added.

He explained that the dedicated catering arm of Nestlé Malta's sprawling local operation, has managed to make such inroads locally primarily thanks to its ability to meet the varying demands of its diversified client base.

"We strive to be competitive," Mr Borg pointed out. "We cater for the exigent five-star hotels and the equally demanding pâtissière at a smaller outfit. Most importantly, we are present as Nestlé. We are not agents - we are partners to the industry, and taking advantage of our background abroad, we manage to have tailor-made solutions to our clients."

Nestlé Professional's range includes breakfast concept items, cooking aids for chefs and pâtissières, confectionery, mini bar stock and mineral waters. The portfolio bears some of the leading food group's brands: Nescafé, Nestlé Fitness, Perugina, Baci, Maggi, San Pellegrino, and Acqua Panna. Nestlé Professional Malta has a dedicated sales team of three and is currently recruiting to beef the team up to five.

The alternative trade channel's first business arose when Nestlé brought Motta ice-cream and later the premium Antica Gelateria del Corso range to Malta. The products helped the business break the ice with major local hotels and catering facilities. Spurred by the initial success, the business continued to grow and the portfolio expanded.

Nestlé Professional has set itself two specific targets this year: to enlarge its client base and to consolidate its existing brands. Mr Borg is mindful of the difficulties facing the catering and tourism industry particularly this year, but believes 2009 could be an opportunity to sow the seeds for repeat business.

"The challenge this year is to reduce the cost base without sacrificing quality," he explained. "But it is also a time to think positive and to focus on offering a quality product as an industry. Even if smaller volumes are attracted, they could be enough to consolidate business for next year.

"The industry understands that Nestlé Professional strives to support the industry in this critical year - we will work to be more convenient and economical."

Nestlé Professional was established as a globally managed business unit last year with full balance sheet responsibility as of last January 1. The Swiss food group said the unit witnessed organic growth of 6.1 per cent and sales of CHF6.2 billion.

The Nestlé brand first came to Malta in 1923.


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