Supplying the future

Garrets International is the leading provision and stores management partner to the global shipping community. Operating from its headquarters in Noerresundby, Denmark and branches in the UK and Singapore, the organisation serves almost 2000 ships around the world, and prides itself on providing efficiency and quality to all its customers.

The business offers two main services, with the largest being provision management, where it is in charge of supplying food to ships on a global basis, as well as supporting chefs and maintaining a budget for the vessel owners. More recently Garrets has begun working in a new segment called stores management covering general consumables and non-food items such as tools, work clothes, paint brushes, robes, mats and so forth.

Shipping & Marine last featured Garrets in April 2016, and in the 12 months since appearing, the company has seen solid organic growth, and as CEO Niels Snog explained, many further developments are expected for 2017. “We expect to grow by about 15 per cent this year, as we streamline our business and look to outsource some of our core business activities. We are also rolling out new technology and implementing it across the fleets we serve,” he said.

The digitalisation projects that Garrets is working on are designed to help increase turnover but not staff levels, which results in efficiency savings. These new systems include updated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) technology as well as a new updated version of the provision work book on board vessels and a new and improved stores management work book. “We are trying to make use of different digital tools to make the vessels smarter and more up-to-date in today’s global climate,” noted Niels. Garrets will be directly connected to the vessels and the data goes straight into the system, removing some of the manual processes. “The more time that people are forced to engage with data transfer, the more opportunities there are for mistakes, so we are trying to remove that factor,” he added.

These technological advancements benefit the vessels served by Garrets as many ship owners and operators are focused on reducing cost, which includes downsizing the number of crew on each vessel. “The smarter we can help them address different processes the better,” said Niels. “We can also make it easier for them to maintain the quality of the work they deliver on board, so we try to both give a good quality in our core business (which is supplying good quality and nutritious food on board vessels and helping chefs make good menu plans to benefit the crew) but also release some time for them to do whatever other tasks they may need to carry out on board.”

Another innovation being launched in 2017 is an electronic cookbook with a menu planning facility, which includes a wide variety of recipes to meet the needs of diverse nationalities at sea. Niels highlighted the further benefits of this: “The cookbook can expand as we go forward, which is why we made it in an electronic format. When a chef has to produce food for cultures different to his own he can use this easy tool for inspiration and we know this has a good impact on the happiness of different crew nationalities. It also builds up a four-week menu plan and can be used to support the next order so the right ingredients are available to facilitate the chosen menu plan.”

While Garrets understands the importance of maintaining innovation with technology, Niels was keen to emphasise that as a service company, the right people remain its most important asset and this will remain at the top of the agenda – with a focus on developing employees’ ‘emotional intelligence’. “We have recognised that staff with a high emotional intelligence level make a big impact to strengthen our business, and we work with people assessment tools and regular one-on-one interviews to best discover their strengths, and then we can discuss further development needs with them, finding out their preferences, ambitions and so on. We are very keen to assist with training, and we train staff through both internal and external courses, where they learn more about anything from finance to food safety. We also offer participation in sea officer seminars to support crew welfare.”

The further education of chefs is another top focus for Garrets, and it works closely with clients to support chef training both on board and on shore, to make sure they are doing a professional job at sea to create better crew welfare. Garrets is keen to develop a new generation of training tools. Garrets also developed an app in 2016, which is operated on a tablet and is used to support boarding & service visits on board performed by Garrets own Superintendents. A crucial element of a Superintendent’s visit is a review of the Chief Cook’s previous training and current capabilities which allow the superintendent to suggest areas for further training so that they have a better knowledge when looking at how to improve standards and service.

The demand for continuous improvement and the highest quality is understandable when considering that Garrets is responsible for close to 2000 vessels, working across the globe. In order to provide suitable catering solutions to clients in all of these different regions the business operates a centralised service with one point of contact for the ships. “We have a worldwide network of sub suppliers and a very strong procurement team that makes sure we have the same agreements across the globe, in both large and smaller trade areas. To ensure the best quality for our clients we work with a third party / external audit company called NSF, who carry out food safety audits on behalf of Garrets and who then make recommendations on the suitability of the supplier.

“We listen closely to the feedback from our vessels about suppliers, and our procurement team also works hard to ensure that the relevant regulations in each country are adhered to as well as more general food safety best practices.”

From the innovations and plans that Niels highlighted, it is clear that Garrets is a forward-thinking and ambitious company, and its plans for the future reinforce its vision for continued success. “I think that our size and also the support of our parent company, Wrist Ship Supply, means we have the muscle to continue to invest in the development of additional services,” he stated. “We constantly look to improve our global supply network, as well as making sure we have our staff where the clients want us to be. We are also considering further acquisitions, as we would like to consolidate our services in this business over the coming years. And of course, attracting the right staff to work at Garrets as we hopefully continue to grow is also a priority.”

He concluded: “We are in a period of time where many clients are adapting to tough market conditions and I think a key point for us is to keep listening – because the world is moving fast and we have to make sure we understand what our customer wants. If you are lucky you can get in front of the curve – and ahead of the competition of course! I think in our position as market leader, it is important for us to maintain that urge to want to improve ourselves every day so we can stay in front. We want to utilise our market leadership to try to take part in how the industry develops as well, to improve the services we offer to clients and to the crew we serve.”

Garrets International
Investing in people and training
New technology projects underway
Continuing investment and expansion planned
Crew welfare