Food and Drink

The Food & Drink Sector faces the following challenges

  • Highly enforced and ever-tightening regulations both for health & safety (H&S) and traceability, demanding changes to both products and processes
  • Ever increasing consumer demands whilst keeping prices low
  • Demand amplification (the effects of second-guessing actual consumer demand), compounded by high levels of promotional activity
  • Retailer demands for both new products and new new variants with short life-cycles
  • Escalating energy, material and transportation costs
  • Retailer imposed shelf-life demands
  • Natural variation in materials that arise from either the external climatic environment or the external living or growing conditions
  • Complex and variable supply chains

How we can help

These external conditions intensify the need for food and drink manufacturing companies to be responsive, agile, sustainable and continuously improve.

We follow a systemic (not a tactical tools and techniques) approach which includes:

  • Strategy Formation and Deployment
  • Local Management and Improvement
  • End to end (E2E) Process Management and Customer Care points

Assessment and development of End to End (E2E) sustainable Improvement Journey Roadmaps

We use the Lean Business Model, Enterprise Excellence Model or the Lean Scorecard approach as the assessment standard for Roadmap development, based on what our client needs to achieve.

Jeff Williams CI conference speech

Aimia Foods workshop

Accolade Wines case study

The Food Manufacturer Podcast Interview

“The SL2 awareness session was a real eye-opener for me.  Simple yet incredibly powerful and the self assessment clearly highlighted some opportunities that I can exploit for me and my team’s mutual benefit.”

“The tour round JLR Halewood was great to see outputs of lean thinking in practice and has given me many more examples to try to emulate back in my own business.
The best day I’ve spent this year.”

Malcolm Watson, Group Lean Manager, ABP Food Group, UK

“What an eye-opening visit we had at JLR yesterday!  Mick’s classroom session was perfectly balanced with a look around the plant.  Thanks for the opportunity to both JLR and S A Partners.  Count me in next time!”

Tea Chalidze, Group Continuous Improvement Manager, Becketts Foods 

“We engaged with SA Partners to help enhance the existing CI capability within the business, and they successfully provided strategic governance for our Lean programme as well as factory-based training in relevant tools and techniques. SA also provided coaching for our Lean practitioners, helping us to implement and bed-in a more structured approach across the business.

We benefited greatly from their input, and have not hesitated in retaining this support as we roll out across our sister sites within the group.”

Debora Bolton, Site Managing Director, Riverside & Dorset Foods – Addo Food Grp

“We worked with S A Partners on our journey to achieve M&S Plan A ‘Silver’ status. S A Partners were a pleasure to work with, gave clarity in our objectives and showed us the focus areas to guide us towards our goal.

We have already started work with S A Partners on our next step towards achieving Plan A ‘Gold’

Mark Campion & Debbie Whitbread, Continuous Improvement Managers – Thorntons

“Kettle Foods is a better business thanks to the S A Partners intervention.”

Dominic Lowe, Managing Director – Kettle Foods

“Working with SA Partners has been both rewarding and enjoyable whilst at the same time learning new skills and delivering process improvements across the business.”

Allan Doyle, Head of Business Improvement – Vimto (Nichols Plc)

Thanks to the whole team. Results are great. The opportunities are aligned with our operational excellence improvement targets as well as Arla’s commitment to the environment.”

Kingsley Ajerio, Operations Director – Arla Foods

“Working in cross functional teams was an eye-opener. It is important to take time out to do this. Instead of fire-fighting we are tackling the root causes systematically.”

Graham Reid, Manager – Arla Foods

“We chose S A Partners as they are recognised as being at the forefront of Lean thinking”

Richard Lloyd, Global Manufacturing Director – Accolade Wines

“Worked with Jeff on a project linked to JS supply chain efficiencies. A very personable approach with extensive knowledge of both the subject manner and the process. Is very keen to learn about the business process and has a very structured approach, Jeff’s style also adds humour along with great examples from other business’s. I would certainly recommend Jeff to any potential customer.

Andy Kendall, Senior Customer SC Manager – Heinz

“S A Partners have been working with Glanbia Ingredients Ireland for over 6 years. Initial activities included Lean awareness training, development of in-house capability to use Lean Tools & Techniques and project based learning and business improvements, around the use of diagnostics such as Value Stream Mapping (VSM). This was a tactical approach to build a business improvement programme that could endure.

In more recent years, Jeff Williams has become a strategic advisor to the business, coaching the leadership to develop and maintain focus on a clear direction and long term strategy. The focus is on the bigger picture. He brings a level of logic, pragmatism, strategic thinking, professionalism and critique to the business to ensure it keeps on track.

Jeff is well respected and held in high regard by the Executive Leadership Team along with others in the business who have come into contact with Jeff over the years”.

Fran Ryan, Business Improvement Manager – Glanbia Ingredients Ireland

“From our initial contact with S A Partners to the delivery at our sites, S A Partners quickly found the balance between what we thought we wanted and what we actually needed.

Their team communicate extremely effectively with both our managers and our factory personnel. Content and tone are smoothly flexed to match the audience and the opportunity.
Very flexible to suit the short notice changes within our factory environments.

Following a successful pilot site, S A Partners were able to accelerate our Lean ambitions simultaneously across multiple sites with no drop in quality of delivery.

The S A Partners process is delivering tangible results in time saved, distance saved and money saved”.

Malcolm Watson, Group Operations Manager – ABP Food Group UK

Programme: The outcome was to begin to build ‘lean thinking’ and a culture of sustainable continuous improvement amongst the production teams in a bakery and confectionary manufacturing plant.

‘We set about devising a training programme that allowed us to train anyone from any position in Lean manufacturing techniques. We decided on 2 levels of Cardiff University accredited training: Team Leader and Team Member. Each group was cross functional, with projects aligned to real problems that were raised within the sessions. This created a great team atmosphere as not only did they learn Lean techniques, but also about and from each other. Our first group consisted of 9 people: 2 Managers, 4 Operators, an Engineer, NPD & Technical. The results were great, we highlighted over 20 improvement ideas and completed 10 of them during the time frame with estimated savings of over £5K. Everyone passed and were genuinely excited about continuing to make change happen.

Due to the momentum created, we decided to offer 1 trainee a full time Lean Team Leader role and began training him to ‘Coach’ level. We continued this with Group 2 who again all passed, generating a further 15 real improvement ideas.

The biggest benefit has been the cultural change in the people involved, who have all gone on to complete further projects, many in there own time. They have broken down barriers to change by encouraging others to get involved, re-organised the way we make certain products, implemented 5S and reduced changeover times, written SOP’s and presented to the Senior Team, all of which they would never have even thought they would do. We more than achieved our original hopes of promoting lean within the workforce as a way of making change happen for yourself and your team and are working towards self sufficiency in using and coaching Lean throughout the business.’

Marc Robinson, Factory Manager, Avana Bakeries (2SFG)


“An hour with Jeff accomplishes more than a week with other Business Improvement Gurus, he tells you straight and steers you right. Trust him and listen to his advice, and your journey will be faster and sustainable.”

Mark Spurdens, Head of Operational & Supply Chain Development – Univeg

I have known Jeff for over fifteen years, formerly as a work colleague, and in the latter six, as a provider of consultancy to my international group.

Jeff has a detailed understanding of the theories of Lean, however, and more importantly, he excels at the pragmatic application of the practices.

Whether operating at CEO/ President, Board, or Operational management level, he brings a refreshing style that is capable of engaging all. Equally, Jeff has a wealth of experience in managing teams of consultants in the context of programme implementation.

I am accountable for Lean within our group, and I will continue to use Jeff’s expertise in the future”.

Phil Shelley, Lean Enterprise Director – Becketts Foods

“Working with S A Partners has been instrumental in helping Mack to develop best in class Lean practices within fresh produce. Their style and approach has really worked for us through a consultant who represents an excellent cultural fit; pragmatic, engaged and taking real ownership for success of results.

 S A Partners have crafted a refreshing balance of insight, challenge, coaching and active participation which has contributed to redefining business processes, improving organisational alignment, as well as growing individual and team capability and confidence. Ultimately, they have helped us accelerate our journey towards better ways of working, providing competitive advantage through superior customer service.”

Mat Thewlis, Operations Director – Mack

Statement made by the CEO of Carbery, Dan Mc Sweeney during Lean Maturity Assessment of the business in early January 2014:

‘A year ago I spent a lot of my time firefighting, now it’s hardly anytime’

Dan Mc Sweeney, CEO – Carbery Group.

Employee engagement is a critical process in underpinning the overall profitability and performance of the business. Cranswick Plc

This case study looks at Lean Business Improvement & Transformation at Vimto

This case study looks at 'Using Process Thinking to drive the Continuous Improvement agenda'

This case study looks at Creating an accredited Lean Academy for a food & drink multi-national

This case study specifically looks at improving New Production Introduction (NPI) at Meatco

This case study covers TPM in a Food Processing Plant in order to fulfil an increase in sales

A case study which looks at Creating Flow in the yard for Foodstuff Inc. Logistics Operation

A case study showing how Big Picture Mapping (BPM) diagnostics in an abattoir delivered solid results

This case study is on Improving New Product Introduction (NPI) at Pet Food Co.

The Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment and how it can help. A new year, new challenges? Do you know where you need to improve to stay ahead of the competition?

Grocery retailers and manufacturers in the Food and Drink sector are experiencing a number of challenges, particularly around cost and competition. This is a hot topic on daily news outlets.

Lean Maturity Assessments are also applicable to other sectors.

Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment

A Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment is one way to gain a better understanding of your business operations and to identify a roadmap for improvement. The Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment looks at the ‘purpose’ of the business system and its effectiveness by examining evidence of the activities you carry out and the results these generate. The image below shows the areas of focus for the assessment i.e. Purposes, Process and People along with the improvement journey from a ‘Reactive’ state, through ‘Proactive’ to ‘Excellence’.

As a food & drink manufacturer, the Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment helps make you aware of your strengths and weaknesses across the business. Its an essential ingredient if you have a plan for 2016 (and beyond) to improve those areas that can help reduce waste and cost, increase profit and beat the competition.

Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment Graph
Lean Scorecard Maturity Graph

It is then possible to align this to a Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment Level which indicates where you are and where you need to get to. You can then develop a roadmap for improvement which aims to sustain and embed business improvements.

Enterprise Excellence Assessment Chart
Enterprise Excellence Assessment Chart


Evidence gathered from working with a variety of clients tells us that a sustainable and holistic Business Improvement journey will:-

  • Act as a key enabler to support your growth journey
    • By allowing you to do “more with the same”
    • By being more effective and efficient
    • By fully energising all of your people in the Improvement agenda, not just a select few!
    • By making “Improvement” a way of life
      • Not a programme or initiative
      • Not a badge
    • By allowing more time for key stakeholders to work ON the business not just IN the business
  • Deliver substantial cost reduction

Will the Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment help you to meet your challenges for 2016 and beyond?

If you would like to know more about the Lean Scorecard Maturity Assessment, please contact Jeff Williams.

Enterprise Excellence Model

Click on any section of the Enterprise Excellence Model below to find out more information for each part of the model.

purpose section of the enterprise excellence model
engage section of the enterprise excellence model
People section of the enterprise excellence model
align section of the enterprise excellence model
Process section of the enterprise excellence model
improve section of the enterprise excellence model