Awards 2005: business finance team – Baxter Storey

The award for Finance Team of the Year ­ Business goes to food service
company Baxter Storey for the way it restructured to adapt to rapid growth and

In the last four years, the business has grown from one company with annual
sales of £22m to four companies with an annual turnover of £125m. The payroll
during this time has increased five fold to over 4,000.

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‘They set out with a growth agenda, grew, completed acquisitions and showed
evidence of team success,’ said our judges.

Half of this has been organic growth while the other half has come from
acquisitions in the food service management industry. This has required the
finance team to grow and innovate to meet the needs of the business. As well as
undertaking successful due diligence on three acquisitions, the team then had to
consolidate all of the different finance teams into one.

The challenges this presented meant that it was necessary to create new
systems and procedures to cope with the expansion. The payroll system was
upgraded to Team Spirit to cope with the increased workforce.

Also, a completely new centralised control system was developed, to capture
all of the financial information from 350 locations. Baxter Storey also changed
its central accounting system to Microsoft Great Plains to ensure that it could
meet the needs of the business.

An investment of £60,000 in the new GeneSys local financial control system
helped keep finance costs down and generated a 300% return on investment by
charging customers to use the system. The new accounts and payroll system
enabled the team to produce better information, quicker and at a lower cost per

While coping with the increased demands of the business, the finance team
also managed to operate at a lower cost ratio year-on-year.

New initiatives like GeneSys have helped Baxter Storey to attract new
business because they allow customers to spend more time on the operation rather

than on accounts.

Creating customer satisfaction and the ability to react to client needs were
important factors in the team’s success. The team also changed its invoice style
to suit the requirements of their clients, whom they visited to explain their
invoices and their VAT implications.

During the acquisitions and the installation of new systems, the team
maintained trade debtors at around 30 days.

The company’s working capital was well managed while change was taking place,
which enabled new acquisitions to be made.

Throughout all of the changes to the business, the Baxter Storey team
maintained tight control to ensure strong budgeting and forecasting along with
detailed, accurate and timely management information. The consolidation of four
finance teams into one also required the ability to work successfully as a team.

‘They demonstrated evidence of performance and put in a good practical,
workmanlike performance,’ said our team of judges. ‘There was clearly a lot of
hard work.’

The judges were looking for evidence of substantial achievement and
innovation that has created clear customer benefits. Evidence of team work and
successes in growth or cost savings was also important.

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