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The food firm driven from within

After a change in management and structuring, a strong belief in internal communications has rejuvenated staff morale and productivity at food

production company, Tillery Valley. Back in 2008, Phil Hall was appointed as the Site Director of Abertillery- based food production company Tillery Valley. Since then, the company, which produces more than 600,000 chilled and frozen meals a week, has seen a marked improvement.

Phil’s early strategy was threefold, with clear aims to improve communication with the workforce, reduce accidents and absences across the site, and streamline the business processes with a focus on waste reduction and recycling. Keen to drive quality and widen Tillery Valley’s customer base, he felt that a programme aimed at staff and processes would lay the foundations to achieve this. Phil said: “When individuals are clear about what is expected of them and understand how their individual responsibilities fit into the wider picture, a more effective, motivated team emerges. A large number of staff on the shop floor have progressed into team leader and supervisor roles with the introduction of a new structure, and key performance indicators measure team successes against specific contracts.”

Staff morale is difficult to measure but statistics would indicate that productivity is improving. Staff absence has gone from 12% to 4% since Phil took the post in 2008 and accident rates have seen a reduction of 100%. Customer complaints have reduced by approximately 15% year on year. Staff engagement is running at 59% with the latest engagement results due out shortly.


Streamlining business processes was a major task for Phil and his team. An audit was carried out across the site and a team pulled together to implement changes across the entire business. Cross department working was encouraged and a number of processes were introduced to ensure minimum wastage when cooking and packing meals.

In 2008, Tillery Valley generated almost 6,000 litres of liquid waste per week. This waste came from surplus custards, gravy and sauces and cost around £31,000 a year to remove from site and dispose of. An environmental team was established and made various changes to improve the efficiency of food production. Despite significant reductions, it became clear that some surplus food was inevitable so Tillery Valley began working with FareShare, a charity which aims to relieve food poverty by distributing food to the homeless and needy.

Before this dedicated team was introduced, waste disposal represented a significant proportion of Tillery Valley’s costs with 85% of waste being sent to landfill. Tillery Valley formed a partnership with Welsh-based waste contractor Wormtech to drive the improvements. As a result of this work, the total waste generated on for 2010/2011 was reduced by 23%. In the last three years, recycling rates have improved from 15% to

over 80%, diverting more than 2,000 tonnes from landfill.

The new team looked closely at the packaging of products and changed both sourced supplies and packaging of Tillery Valley products to reduce the amount of waste generated onsite. By exchanging foil backed card lids to card only, Tillery Valley could offer 100% recyclable packaging to customers. Simple purchasing changes proved just as important in helping Tillery Valley reduce its waste to landfill. For example, the cloths used for cleaning were replaced with a compostable version, so that they could be recycled with the food waste. As a result, savings of up to £50,000 per annum have been made from waste minimisation and recycling measures.

Phil commented: “Changing the culture of the workforce to view waste as a commodity and not just an inevitable part of what we do was a major challenge, but our staff bought into the programme and became conscientious and keen to improve on targets.”

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