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BGA expanding wholesale food service business

Wholesale distributor BGA is expanding, and plans to substantially grow its food and retail product lines.

The company will be offering more fresh and frozen foods and has hired three new staff members to grow the business.

Heinz Stuhlpfarrer, who has 25 years of experience in the food industry in sales and as a chef, has joined the company as Food Service Division manager.

In addition, BGA has hired Sonja Baptiste in a buying role, and Andre Carr to take over the Procter & Gamble division.

"BGA is expanding more into food service and retail categories of business with an emphasis on fresh / frozen products,” president and CEO of the BGA Group of Companies and Pitt & Company, John Tomlinson, said yesterday.

“We are constantly looking for growth and sometimes that means moving into areas of business that other companies are already well established and in which we are the relative newcomer.”

BGA’s main rivals include Butterfield & Vallis, Dunkley’s, Viking Food and Bermuda Import Export Company.

BGA and Pitt, which employ more than 120 people, are owned by Wendall Brown’s BDC 2000 Ltd, also the parent of the Phoenix Stores.

Mr Tomlinson said the BGA team will be focussing heavily on customer service.

“Heinz joined BGA in April this year as our Food Service Division manager,” Mr Tomlinson said. “He is a highly regarded professional with a distinguished career as a chef. More recently he has forged a career in sales management. It is clear after meeting him for just a few minutes that integrity is a word by which he lives his life. Heinz is very knowledgeable and extremely straightforward and I knew immediately he would fit in well within our company in a senior role.

"Heinz knows the delicate balance of running food service establishments and the demands for quality and value from food providers that serve them. He has seen it from both ends of the service call. Heinz is well placed to maximise BGA's strength and depth in management, the group's broad sales, marketing, distribution and extensive trade relationships, to make a real difference to our customers.”

Mr Stuhlpfarrer commented: "The company is clearly committed to being a significant player in a market segment that I know very well. It is a relatively untapped market for them and they have invested in me, giving me a great deal of responsibility, to grow this segment of the business essentially from scratch. I value the challenge and the opportunity and I am looking forward to reaching out to my friends and colleagues in the industry.

“My aim is to exceed the demands and expectations they will certainly have of me. I have spent many years in Bermuda and I have built a deep trust from chefs and business owners alike. They are my customers now and with the full support of the BGA Group behind me, I am looking forward to delivering success to them beyond that which they are getting today. As they say around BGA ‘we are winning for our customers’.”

Mr Tomlinson said that despite the recession, BGA has added to its staff.

“We recruited Sonja Baptiste in a buying role from another successful local retail company and we recruited Andre Carr from the hotel industry,” he said. “Both Sonja's and Andre's backgrounds have a good deal of customer service involvement and that lends itself very well to delivering an improved customer service offering within our Group of Companies, which is important to us. “

Mr Tomlinson said like many other businesses in Bermuda, BGA has been hit by the Island’s declining population.

“Bermuda has been hit quite hard by the recession as you know, and this has been reflected in some consumers 'trading down'.

“It seems evident that more people are concerned with price than they were perhaps a few a years ago. We use our best endeavours to deliver value as a wholesaler and we work with our trade customers and vendors to pass this on to the consumer where we can. The simple fact of fewer people living in Bermuda is the single biggest factor when it comes to maintaining sales growth.”

He added: “Naturally, in a down economy, there are pressures on our receivables for a wide variety of reasons. When our customers feel the pressure to meet their payable obligations we encourage them to speak with us about it and we in turn try and work closely with them to find a solution that best suits their needs and capabilities to pay.”

BGA’s product mix includes some of the most known brands in the world, including: Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Cadbury, Clorox, Dole, Georgia Pacific, Gilette, Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, McVitie’s, Procter & Gamble, Revlon, GlaxoSmithKline, Schering Plough, SC Johnson and Pfizer, to name a few.

Expansion plans: The team at BGA: (from left) John Tomlinson, the president and CEO of the BGA Group of Companies and Pitt & Company, and sales team members Sonja Baptiste, Heinz Stuhlpfarrer and Andre Carr.

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Published May 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm)

BGA expanding wholesale food service business

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