South Shields Indian food firm gets calls in software experts

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A South Tyneside food firm is serving up new jobs after calling in business software experts.

South Shields-based Punjab Kitchen is the largest supplier of special diet meals to the public sector in the UK, and the introduction of a new brand in 2012 led to a huge increase in orders and the company’s headcount.

But Punjab Kitchen’s business processes and logistics operation were in need of updating as a result of the expansion, during which the number of people working for the company increased from 45 to 80.

The firm is the UK’s market leader in providing frozen special diet meals to hospitals and other organisations.

Yaqoob Ishaq, Punjab Kitchen’s national sales director, explained: “The introduction of our very successful Simply Puree range led to a huge amount of growth between 2012 and 2014 and we knew we had to keep on top of stock control and we were also looking more seriously at logistics and distribution.

“We had been using Sage 50, but it was no longer providing us with the answers.

“We met with Chris Hawley and Jules Young-Hawley from The Northern Path and were immediately impressed.”

He added: “They took the time to learn about our business and then presented a full process map, using Sage 200, that took us through our business processes from start to finish. It was extremely thorough.”

He added: “The introduction was very smooth and our ability to control our stock – and keep us up-to-date with what we need to be making more of – has improved massively.

“This is particularly important to us as we’ve recently opened a new 16,000sq ft freezer warehouse which enables us to store up to 750,000 meals, so our distribution and logistics operations had to be right.

“We found The Northern Path very easy to work with, extremely knowledgeable and very supportive,” Yaqoob added.

The Simply Puree range provides pureed meals that have been textured and reshaped to create visually attractive and nutritionally-balanced meals.

Chris Hawley, managing director of Gateshead-based The Northern Path, said the challenge facing Punjab Kitchen was an interesting one: “It’s a really successful, growing company but Yaqoob knew that the business processes could be improved.”

“We identified where there were opportunities to streamline the processes and knew that Sage 200 had the flexibility and capability to provide the answers.”

The Northern Path was founded by a team of former Sage employees and provides business solutions and business process improvements.

Chris founded The Northern Path three years ago, having had 20 years’ experience working for Sage and their products.

Fellow founding director was Chris’s wife, Jules Young-Hawley, who also worked at Sage.