Air Fayre Ltd: Services Division of Journey Group plc

Adrian Stratta has recently joined AiQ as Senior Consultant, and brings with him a wealth of experience. This article outlines his turnaround experience with Air Fayre Ltd (AFL), the Services Division of Journey Group plc.

Today, Journey Group plc provides in-flight catering to the international and domestic airline industry and in-flight products primarily to the international airline industry, now organised into two divisions, the US and Products.

In previous years the Services Division provided airside catering (carriers and lounges), media and buy-on-board services. AFL were Heathrow based, with a subsidiary in Birmingham and were starting a new separate venture in Los Angeles. AFL had 9 core customers and contracts including bmi, Qantas, Air Canada, JAL and Sri Lankan.

Within the restructure plans to turn around this underperforming business, the new Group Chairman brought in Adrian as Interim MD with immediate tasks to:

  • Provide clear operational leadership to AFL and foster a positive culture
  • Restructure business back to profit

An initial assessment identified a variety of issues; volumes were down (largely due to the industry downturn and the banking crisis); core customers were reflecting low volumes; poor communications resulted in reduced service delivery and performance – not delivering to agreed service level agreements (SLA). The business had severe cash constraints, exacerbated by excessive staffing levels. Existing customers were complaining and no new contracts had been won over the last two years.

Adrian concluded that a great platform existed and wanted to consolidate the enhancements of the previous consultants and leaders, yet recognised the need to ensure effective coordination across all departments. The staff were well motivated and sought to deliver good results, yet communication, systems and processes needed to be enhanced. It was essential to present a calm persona and create a measured/focused approach across the business.

His immediate actions concentrated upon satisfying existing customers and contracts, including:

  • Ensuring effective operational performance, to time and quantity, delivering customer expectation and SLA
  • Working with finance to impose strict cash management; to address all aspects of operations and cash recovery from customers
  • Empowering and enabling the managers and staff, within clear and defined boundaries

The managers and teams pulled together; customers acknowledged the improved service delivery. The operation was objectively measured (end-to-end), part driven by the new mandated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, prompting efficiencies, new lean processes and defining savings. The turnaround was noticeable, in 6 months the business was looking to breakeven, with a view to driving a profit within a year. The business was more confident, managers were better able to control and interact across the business and they achieved their first contractual win for 2 years.

The prospect of a potential joint venture with a major global competitor could now be considered. It would be a significant leap to achieve, yet given the current situation, it was attainable and it became a reality – delivered as a result of a great team performance.

We are delighted to have Adrian on our AiQ Consulting team. Using his experience of business and aviation, along with his unique ability to effectively communicate with all stakeholders, he assists our clients to manage and drive projects; and create greater efficiencies with airport operations.