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Africa Outlook

N1 Restaurant Suppliers
food and drink
South Africa
wholesale

N1 RESTAURANT SUPPLIERS

A Fresh Approach

N1 Restaurant Suppliers continues to cater to the needs of South Africa’s hoteliers, restaurateurs and hospitality industry operators, diversifying its offering into a one-stop shop

Writer: Tom Wadlow

Project Manager: Lewis Bush

South Africans are spending more money eating out. According to figures published by Statistics South Africa, the restaurant, fast food and catering sector generated revenue of more than R57.25 billion in 2016.

The same organisation also revealed earlier this year that consumers are spending seven percent more in coffee shops and restaurants than in 2017. Fastfood outlets were another important contributor, with spend at these outlets increasing by 7.1 percent.

For wholesale industry leader N1 Restaurant Suppliers, this represents an opportunity to grow what has already become a much-diversified business since it set up shop in 1991.

“Through extensive research and observation, we were able to ascertain that there is an untapped potential within the food and drink industry in Africa, due to the lack of infrastructure,” comments the Company’s CEO Paul Youlten.

“Our philosophy and focus is to tap into that potential and invest in its growth through travelling to European countries and conducting extensive product research on an international scale. This enables us to introduce new products in the food and drink market in Africa.

“Our main aim is to set up a one-stop solution for our clients, so that they can have all their product needs met. Through this we are able to plug into the untapped market at the right margin.”

Humble beginnings

Originally operating as N1 Meats, the firm began life as a small butchery and meat packing business.

Through the 1990s it became clear that the wholesale market presented tremendous growth opportunities as South Africa’s food industry expanded, and in 2001, having reached its 10th birthday, N1 Restaurant Suppliers opened a new factory.

This granted vital capacity to fill increasing demand, not least from Halaal customers who to this day see the firm as a go-to supplier of meat products.

“Through hard work and dedication from the N1 family, the business is able to develop and advance, striving to continue being the best in the industry, supplying its end users with the best food products at competitive rates,” adds Youlten.

The CEO’s story with the Company also has humble origins, Youlten beginning life at N1 in 1995 as a driver.

“Through the good fortune of seeing a ‘driver wanted’ poster on the shop window of N1 Meats and being inspired by the words of Allan O’ Connor, who said ‘you will determine your own future at this company’, a life changing journey was sparked,” Youlten recalls.

“With an unwavering drive to achieve more, after two years I then succeeded into being a Telesales Representative and a Production Manager, serving a year and progressing into a Sales Rep, representing the Company on the road.

“The period 2001-2010 marked the start of even greater opportunities when I then worked as a Sales Manager and, having built a solid foundation over the years, I moved into the prominent role of CEO in 2010.”

Setting the standard

Thanks to the leadership of Youlten and the work of his team, N1 Restaurant Suppliers holds a firm presence in the market today, operating out of its main hub in Cape Town and secondary branch in Johannesburg.

The Cape Town depot is divided into Halaal and non-Halaal factories and encompasses designated cold storage which houses frozen goods. In order to cater for an expanding and diverse client base, the firm has also launched a ZA-approved Mauritius branch to go into the export and import market.

For Youlten, a bespoke product range, same day delivery and strict adherence to three simple principles are what stands the Company apart from competitors.

“We have a solid culture of quality, service and delivery. We refine and engineer what suits and meets the needs of the end user, through a consolidation of a range of products, which cater to the overall taste profile of the customer.

“The client is able to get a wide variety ranging from fresh and frozen meat, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit and desserts, to name a few. We order, produce and pack, ensuring that the end user’s requirements are met efficiently and precisely.”

This has enabled N1 Restaurant Suppliers to become a one-stop shop solution for South African hoteliers, restaurateurs and hospitality industry players, with export also becoming a growing line of business.

Local champions 

At the other end of the product lifecycle, the Company is helping local industry to thrive by managing its own supply chain through a local lens.

“Our aim is to maintain a good relationship with local suppliers,” Youlten says. “We ensure that we also source our goods and products from local vendors, and by using local brands we are able to invest back into the communities as there is a greater return on invest.

“It also helps us comply with the BEE status requirements… in recent times we have managed to become forward thinkers in terms of complying with BEE regulation and through this we can cater to government tenders.”

Youlten is also eager to stress the importance of people, both in terms of succeeding as a business and in the work N1 Restaurant Suppliers does within the communities it serves.

“We believe in surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals with the same vision and mission. We understand that the Company’s most valuable assets are its people,” he says. “That’s why our trusted management team takes great care to ensure our team’s wellbeing and total work satisfaction is maintained.

“However, our main aim is to build N1 to encompass not just employees but a family with the same vision, objectives and ethics.”

An example of this is the Company’s focus on recruiting from matriculants who are unable to attend higher education institutions after school. N1 is expertly placed to provide learnerships and share its extensive industry experience and knowledge, expertise that will doubtlessly benefit those the firm reaches.

“It is the community that makes us the people that we are today, Youlten continues. “Through numerous outreach programmes and sponsorships, we are able to share with the less fortunate by giving back. We have supported many projects such as the Potjie Kos Day, The Food Bank, the UCT Food Scheme, St. Luke’s Hospice and various old age homes.”

By operating as a responsible corporate citizen and sticking to its three-pronged ethos of quality, service and delivery, Youlten is looking forward to what the ensuing years have in store.

He concludes: “The future looks promising. We are looking to invest in staff welfare by promoting from within.

“We want to excel in the ever-changing industry by always improving the way we conduct business, ensuring that N1 Restaurant Suppliers is a name to be reckoned with in the meat and wholesale industry.  We want to reach and achieve new heights and excel even further.”