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Westmorland recruits new chief executive

Current Westmorland CEO Sarah Dunning

Top 50 Indie Westmorland has announced it has recruited a new chief executive as it unveiled strong growth in turnover and profits in its annual results.

The family owned motorway services business, which won the 2016 Forecourt Trader of the Year award for its Gloucester Services, increased its pre-tax profit by 69% to £6.1m for the year to June 2016, compared with £3.6m the previous year.

Turnover, which included the first full year of trading at Gloucester Services, was up 29% to £92.9m, versus £71.8m last time.

CEO Sarah Dunning said: “We have developed and strengthened our offer in our farmshops and kitchens, resulting in strong trading. Work with local and independent producers has remained a priority; Gloucester and Tebay Services each have an established network of around 130 local producers, within 30 miles of the services. Over half of what we spend with retail and catering suppliers is locally or regionally sourced and that commitment to local allows emerging local businesses to flourish.”

The company said that in order for it to continue with its development and to sustain its growth, it had decided to strengthen its team, particularly with the operational skills required to run a bigger business.

As a result, it is appointing a chief executive with a strong retail and operational background, with Rob Swyer taking up the new role in April 2017.

Swyer started his career in manufacturing and buying with Mars and has since worked in retail with Asda, Pets at Home and most recently as retail director of Halfords.

At the same time, Dunning will move to the role of chairman. Current chairman Bryan Gray will remain with the business as a non-executive director, and managing director Laurence King will become vice chairman.

In April 2016, Westmorland undertook a full review of its pay and benefits for its 1,000 colleagues and took the decision to pay above the National Living Wage for all colleagues above the age of 18. Westmorland now has plans to develop a new headquarters in Cumbria with development kitchens that will allow suppliers and in-house teams to further develop The Westmorland Family’s locally sourced offer on the motorway.

Dunning said: “The economic outlook for 2017 is not without its challenges, with risks of increased input prices, fuel prices and continued increases in the National Living Wage. However, the business remains positive and will continue to develop its offer, its internal teams and its relationships with both producers and local communities in the next year.”

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