Ruthin’s Energy Company clinches deal with expanding food firm

A Ruthin company is celebrating after clinching a deal to look after the energy needs of a restaurant and café chain that’s planning a major expansion.

The Energy Company UK Ltd have signed to manage the utilities for mid-Wales based Gastronomy Foods UK Ltd, which employs 280 people in 12 KFC restaurants in North and Mid Wales and the West Midlands.

Gastronomy’s fryers, cookers and kettles at its 12 existing KFCs had their £600,000 bills handled by energy brokers The Energy Company, based on Ruthin’s Lon Parcwr estate.

Over the next five years Gastronomy is aiming at an ambitious growth plan to take on up to 20 Starbucks franchises and one of its first steps has been to enter into a new energy management deal with The Energy Company.

Gastronomy Managing Director Akram Khan said: “The Energy Company has been looking after our utility supplies for quite some time and have done an excellent job for us.

“They are very thorough and highly professional. They are also a local company and as we’ve grown they’ve grown with us. I think that’s what’s so good about them is that they care about their clients and what they do.

“Our energy bill for the KFC restaurants last year was nearly £600,000 – that’s £490,000 for electricity and £108,000 for gas – and The Energy Company has helped us to tightly control this by finding us the right suppliers for our needs.

“They’ve kept our energy costs relatively low and that has put us in a good place to expand.

“We’ve already asked them to do the same kind of job for us with the new Starbucks premises we’re planning because it’s vital that large energy bills are controlled by experts in the field.”

John Davies, Managing Director of The Energy Company, said: “The energy market is a very fickle and volatile beast. It takes experience and knowledge to make sure our clients are offered the best possible selection of not just rates, but an assessment of the best contract durations and supplier.

“To support Gastronomy’s planned expansion we will be arranging new electricity and gas metering installations and supply and ensuring that deadlines are hit so that the new sites open to plan.

“We have managed their energy since 2005 and this new deal is a real vote of confidence from them and comes at an exciting time for both companies.”

Gastronomy’s latest KFC restaurant opens next month on the Harlescott Retail Park, in Shrewsbury, and Managing Director Akram Khan intends to relocate the company’s headquarters there from its current home in Forden, near Welshpool.

Gastronomy Foods was founded by managing director Khan, who initially worked for the KFC brand at two franchises owned by the father of his then girlfriend, now his wife, Sabina, in East London.

He managed the branches on behalf of his father-in-law before purchasing his own franchise in Chingford, Essex in 2000, selling up in 2006 to buy seven restaurants in Wales.

Along with operations director Thamboo Subashkaran, area manager at the London outlets and part-owner of Gastronomy Foods, the new management embarked on a refurbishment programme, with the help of KFC, to modernise the restaurants, as well as expanding the workforce.

The company now has 12 KFC restaurants in Holyhead, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Rhuddlan, Aberystwyth, Caernarfon, Bangor, Llandudno and Llandudno Junction, Shrewsbury town centre, Oswestry and Stoke-on-Trent.

Akram Khan says the company’s aim is to eventually have a total of 20 KFC restaurants across Mid and North Wales and the Midlands.

He said: “Within the next five years we’re planning to have at least 20 Starbucks and, fingers crossed, to increase our present workforce of about 280 to between 800 and 1,000.

“I moved to Wales from Chingford nine years ago because I saw an opportunity to develop the KFC brand to an under-served market and now hope to do the same with Starbucks.

“We support more than 200 families and are very much focused on the people. I eventually plan to sell shares in the business to our employees to recognise their importance to the company.”

The Energy Company was founded by John Davies 20 years ago and is now based on Lon Parcwr, Ruthin, where it employs eight staff as well as a network of agents across the UK.

John Davies added: “We have worked solely in the specialised business market for many years but following a growing demand for a domestic service, we will shortly be launching a very competitive price checking website.

“We’re delighted to help all our 3,500 customers and we estimated that in the last 10 years alone we have saved them in excess of £5 million, money which I am sure they can better spend elsewhere in their business.”

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