Food, drink and retail industry news

Rising Star award winner announced

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We were delighted to attend the Quality Food Awards this month where we sponsored the  Rising Star category for the second year. The winner was Bea Hill, Operations Assistant from handmade marshmallow company Mallow and Marsh. Although Bea couldn’t be there on the night, one of her colleagues (pictured) picked up her winner’s trophy. Huge congratulations to Bea on her win!

Working Options sponsors Rising Star award

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We’re delighted that Working Options is again sponsoring the Rising Star award at the Quality Food Awards.

This award recognises the food and drink retail industry stars of the future and is open to anyone under the age of 25 who works in any area of the food and drink industry or is studying to enter this field.

So whether the young person in question is working as a chef or in the retail grocery sector, be it in a small convenience store or a large supermarket, or studying food technology, the Rising Star Award wants to recognise those bright sparks who show the passion and drive to succeed in the food and drink industry.

The award is free to enter, nominations are welcome until 6 July and the ceremony takes place in November.

More information and to enter 

Book your place at the 2018 Leadership Symposium

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options fundraising events, Working Options news | No Comments

Bookings are now open for our fourth Leadership Symposium which takes place on November 8th 2018 at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Confirmed speakers so far this year include:

  • Piers Morgan (Journalist and TV presenter)
  • Dave Lewis (CEO at Tesco)
  • Debbie Robinson (MD at Spar)
  • Christine Tacon ( Groceries Code Adjudicator)
  • Kris Gibbon-Walsh (Fareshare UK)
  • Rob Kelly (Founder of Thrive)
  • Andy Hawes (Founder of Newton)


This promises to be an interesting and lively event attended by many senior individuals from the food, drink and grocery industry. We also invite students from the sixth form colleges we work with to attend, providing a great opportunity for them to network and hear what’s going on in the industry.

The event also includes a panel discussion with the winners of The Grocer’s Top New Talent awards and a session on discussing start-up and challenger brands.

The Symposium is relevant to the management of any level or discipline as a learning and networking forum and attendees will include suppliers and senior commercial management from key retailers in our sector.

Leendert den Hollander, Vice President & General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners:

“There are three very clear reasons as to why we support the Leadership Symposium. Firstly, the dialogue and interaction on key leadership issues is second to none, just look at the speakers! Secondly, there is a real opportunity to learn from others. And ultimately, all the while we are supporting two great causes.”

Giles Turrell, CEO at Weetabix:

“The Leadership Symposium is a fantastic event to hear from experienced leaders across the industry. With the many joint issues we face, from the economy, day to day trading, to Brexit, this is a wonderful opportunity to hear from such a distinguished line-up.”


Profit from this event is shared between Working Options in Education and the charity Grocery Aid.


© Steve Pope – Fotowales

© Steve Pope – Fotowales

© Steve Pope – Fotowales

© Steve Pope – Fotowales

The Apprenticeships Levy: One Year On

By | Education news, Food, drink and retail industry news | No Comments

Here at Working Options we’re convinced of the benefits of Apprenticeships for both students and employers.

Recent analysis of data from the Education and Skills Funding Agency commissioned by the Open University (OU) – The Apprenticeship Levy: One Year On – shows that more than £1.28 billion of the funding that has been paid into the Apprenticeship levy by companies is sitting in National Apprenticeship Service accounts with only £108 million withdrawn to date. Worryingly, the funds sitting in these accounts expire after 24 months. Companies are clearly failing to maximise the opportunities of the levy and the OU urges employers to pick up the pace before everyone loses out.

Now, a year is not a long time, and there have undoubtedly been barriers to companies getting their schemes up and running. The OU is calling for a more agile approach and the introduction of ‘modular apprenticeships’. These would allow employers to tailor training by adding additional learning modules to ‘core’ apprenticeships; an approach supported by one in four employers (24%), and that still works towards the UK government’s target of developing three million new apprentices by 2020.

We already help ABP UK to promote their Apprenticeship vacancies to the students in the colleges we work with. If you’d like to join them to promote your Apprenticeships, get in touch.

Students meet food and drink industry leaders and entrepreneurs at our Leadership Symposium conference

Dave Cheesewright Walmart International By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options fundraising events, Working Options news | No Comments

Students from sixth form colleges around the country were invited to attend our recent Leadership Symposium event to hear from and network with leaders in the food / drink industry and sports personalities. Speakers at the event included Paralympian Hannah Cockroft,  President and Chief Executive of Walmart International, Dave Cheesewright and Alison Horner, Chief People Officer at Tesco.

Here some students from Collyers, a sixth form college in West Sussex explain why they were so inspired by the speakers and delegates at this high profile annual event which raises funds for Working Options and Grocery Aid.

Thanks to The District Post for this article, read it here


Credit: The District Post – 5 Jan 2018


UK Rising Star Quality Food Award winner announced

By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We’re pleased to announce that William Page from Simply Lunch has won the first UK Rising Star Quality Food Award 2017.


Working Options in Education sponsored the new Rising Star award this year. We’re also delighted to be the Quality Food Awards nominated charity partner this year.


William works as purchasing manager at Simply Lunch, a family-owned lunch caterer in London. At just 22-years-old, William has already shown himself to be a highly competent and energetic purchasing expert, having led this department for three years. In that time Simply Lunch has grown from a £2 million business to a £14 million company.


UK Rising Star Quality Food Award 2017

Quality Food Awards Rising Star Award Credit:

The Quality Food Awards Rising Star is a new national award designed to recognise and reward the achievements of young people within the food and drink industry. The UK Rising Star was open to under 25s working in any aspect of the food and drink products industry or who are studying to enter this field. Whether they are training to be a development chef or are in the retail grocery sector – be it small convenience store or a large supermarket – the UK Rising Star Quality Food Award is designed to recognise young, upcoming talent.


Lauren Monk, national development manager for Working Options in Education, said:


“William was a very worthy winner of the Rising Star Award and it was a pleasure to celebrate with him on the evening. William’s achievements in his career so far are very impressive and his entry really demonstrated that he also emulates the Working Options five principles of success: hard work; perseverance; good work standards; networking and positive thinking. It was extremely difficult to choose a winner, as all of the nominees were very talented, bright and hard-working individuals. I’m certain they all have very bright futures ahead of them and will play a part in continuing to influence impactful and instrumental developments in the FMCG industry.”


“We were keen to do something to celebrate those young people who want to enter our industry and are showing huge potential to be dynamic future leaders,” said Helen Lyons, publishing director for the Quality Food Awards. “We couldn’t think of a better partner for this new award than Working Options in Education. Their commitment to promoting our sector as a vibrant, rewarding place to work among young people is in complete alignment with our desire to support and champion the food and drink products and the production and retailing of them. Huge congratulations to William on his work to date and I’m looking forward to seeing what he will achieve in future.”


William said of his win: “What can I say about winning? Firstly to get nominated/shortlisted was fantastic, but to win was amazing, especially such a prestigious award as a Q award. I first heard about the Quality Food Awards in 2014 when we won a small producer award for our Chicken Fajita Wrap, which was a fantastic achievement for us. I have my Q award on my desk at work, but doubtless it will make its way to the company boardroom at some point.”


There was also a highly commended award to Andrew McGow, who is training in butchery at ABP Ellesmere.


For more information on the Quality Food Awards visit the website: – entries for 2018 for UK Quality Food Awards Rising Star will open in March next year.

Annual Leadership Symposium 2017 – book your place

Hannah Cockroft By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options fundraising events, Working Options news | No Comments

We’ve got a great line up at our third annual Leadership Symposium which takes place on 28 November at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Speakers include Allan Leighton, Independent Chairman at Co-op, Alison Horner, Chief People Officer at Tesco, David Cheesewright, President and CEO of Walmart International, Lord Mark Prince and  five times Gold Paralympian, Hannah Cockroft MBE. Our presenters this year are Jeremy Thompson and Anna Botting from SKY News.

Our Leadership Symposiums are attended by senior individuals from across the food, drink and retail industry. We also invite our partner sixth form colleges to send student delegates free of charge to hear our inspirational speakers.

Proceeds from this annual event are shared between Working Options in Education and Grocery Aid. Headline sponsor for this year’s event is Newton with additional sponsors Booker, Dairy Crest and Odgers Berndtson. Our media partner is The Grocer.

For more information or to book a delegate place go to or call TMB Events on 01865 823895.

Sainsbury’s scholarship awardee becomes Ambassador for Working Options

Sainsbury's logo By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

A few years ago, we set up a scholarship programme with Sainsbury’s who kindly agreed to fund £3,000 a year for three years towards two university places for students from Luton Sixth Form College in Bedfordshire.

Our first Sainsbury’s scholarship recently graduated from Warwick University with a Law degree. Our second, Mahesh Godhania is now in his second year at Aston University and has agreed to become an Ambassador for Working Options.

You’ll hear more from Mahesh over the coming months as he’ll be blogging here on life at uni, his experience of finding and doing his industrial work placement (he’s just started at Vauxhall) and more.

We’ve been running a scholarship programme with Sacla Foods for the last two years. This is available to female students graduating from Henley College in Oxfordshire to study a degree in food science or nutrition. There are currently two scholarship recipients studying at University of Reading and both have the opportunity to do summer work experience at Sacla as part of the award.

Scholarships are no longer a core element of our programme, but we continue to offer a scholarship with Sacla Foods. We’re delighted that four young people have so far been supported to follow their dream of going to university.

Job and apprenticeship search is live

employability skills By | Food, drink and retail industry news, Working Options news | No Comments

We’re pleased to say that our new job and apprenticeship search is now live on the site. We’re keen to attract companies that want to recruit 16-19 year olds to their vacancies so get in touch if that applies to you.

Our first industry partnership is with food manufacturer ABP UK. The company offers a wide ranging Apprenticeship Scheme and we are currently advertising four vacancies for them – 3 Butchery Apprenticeships in Shrewsbury, Ellesmere and Guildford and an Engineering Apprenticeship.

Meet Adam, a former ABP Butchery Apprentice who shares his career story