Peter Rowland CEO discusses national expansion

Spice spoke to CEO Emma Yee to find out what's in store for the company's future.

Melbourne caterer Peter Rowland has announced plans to expand its operations nationally, heralding a new era for the 57-year-old company.

Here, Peter Rowland CEO Emma Yee tells us all the details about the company’s growth plans and shares more about her role in the business.

Q: What has your journey with Peter Rowland looked like?

A: I started with Peter Rowland almost 10 years ago. I was general manager, operations, so I had a large portfolio within my division and that kept growing. I ended up on the executive team within about four years and I was one of the first women on the executive team, so that was pretty exciting. Then I became the acting CEO and then the CEO in 2017. I’ve always been one for wanting more, so I quite happily took on more responsibility so I could see all different parts of the business.

Q: How has the brand evolved since the investment by Capital Alliance in 2017?

A: Investment from Capital Alliance and [its founder and CEO] Mohan Du has allowed us to refinance and restructure the business to become the most diverse hospitality company in Australia with divisions across private catering and events, commercial catering, major events, venue catering, retail and e-commerce. Peter Rowland has been nourishing Melbourne for 57 years and our chairman Mr Peter Rowland created a business that set a benchmark for contemporary catering in the second half of the twentieth century. Our intention is to create and set the benchmark for the hospitality business of the future. We have the heritage, expertise, resources and importantly, the energy to do that.

Peter Rowland venue Butler Lane

Q: Which states are you looking to bring Peter Rowland to as part of the expansion?

A: We are launching first in Sydney, where we have acquired a catering company that has the kitchen and the ready-to-go workforce. I am envisioning it’ll probably take us a little bit of time to settle in, as we like to do things right. We will make further announcements as we roll out our strategy across the east coast and ultimately the west coast of Australia. For us it’s all about surprising everybody and doing things differently.

Q: Where do you see the brand positioning itself in Sydney?

A: Our strategy is for diversification and scale. We intend to replicate our successful business model in Sydney and roll out the full Peter Rowland portfolio of catering and events, bespoke commercial catering, major events and venue catering and we are excited about expanding our e-commerce offer. Peter Rowland has been operating in the corporate sector in Sydney and Canberra for several years so we have an existing workforce and market insight.

Q: What areas of the food and beverage industry are you most passionate about in 2019?

A: As a group, we believe the world is changing and so is the way we eat, so for all our menus we look at our suppliers, the food miles, where it’s coming from and how it’s grown. The Kitchen, our partnership with Woolworths, in Double Bay, Sydney is the perfect example of this – it’s about whole foods and clean eating. The other thing we are passionate about, and I am really passionate about, is hospitality as an industry that offers exciting and substantial careers for young people. I think hospitality is starting to be looked at as a career and not just a transient market segment.

We spend a lot of time talking to the TAFEs and we get a lot of the students straight out of William Angliss – I was a William Angliss student. We have apprentices and we like to nurture them and watch them grow. We have a number of employees that have done their apprenticeships with Peter Rowland and are still here and over 57 years we have launched the careers of many of Australia’s leading chefs and hospitality professionals. We, as a business, are quite passionate about that.

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Spice Magazine.
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