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10 Years of David Sefton: a Reflection

All About Food is as much about it’s people as it is about food. And whilst the food may get a place in our name, it’s our people who take the most important place, and it’s our people who help up grow to a size we want to be at. We take pride in the people who leave the business to go on to different and exciting things, but we’re even more proud of when people stay with the company through years and years of evolution and change.

Last week, David Sefton, our Finance and Supply Chain Director celebrated his 10th year with the company, reaching the landmark as our longest serving Foodie. And while it’s Dave’s keen financial eye that he was brought to the business for, he has proved that he is much more than bean-counter extraordinaire during his time with the business. We caught up with David to have a chat about the previous 10 years and what he thinks may be in store in the 10 years following:

When did you start with the business?

I started with the business before it was even called All About Food. It was 25th March 2007, and we were called The Grocery Company. The only things that was here then that’s here now are the pair of sofas in our TV room.

What were your first impressions when you met Phil for a chat about what was then The Grocery Company?

I thought that he was bonkers, but in a great way. So passionate and so different to anyone that I had ever worked with. I had, and have, worked with amazing people, but Phil’s enthusiasm was something else. I loved it.

What attracted you to the business?

The ability to create your own destiny with a growing business. There was and is opportunity and freedom to help create a company that I wanted. It sounds completely cliche but there’s more to this business than business. There’s a balance between working hard and making money, and having fun and doing things in the right way. Sure, it’s a common denominator between all of the Foodies, but working with good people makes all of the difference.

In terms of size, compared to now, how big was AAF when you joined?

Financially, we’re just over 6 times larger now than we were when I joined 10 years ago, so you get a pretty good scale of the financial change and the growth of the business. In terms of people, I was our 8th employee when I started, and now we’ve had 59 in total. So we’ve expanded in loads of different ways!

What did you hope to achieve with and by joining AAF?

With All About Food, I hoped and succeeded in implementing some of the procedures I had picked up at larger companies, adding an immediate value there. I wanted to make a difference professionally but also with the other people who worked for the company, which is something that’s pretty common throughout the business, too, to be fair.

When I started at The Grocery Company I had a timeline of how I wanted to succeed personally, and only imagined being here for three or four years. But I suppose 10 years later you can see that plans change. I’m a big planner, but my plans changed as the business grew and allowed me to succeed within this group.

What was your impression once inside the business?

Consistency. I saw what things were like from the outside and really liked it. That was exactly what I found when I joined.

Memorable moment?

Oh, I don’t know. There’s been too many to think of.

But you don’t want to be a cop-out do you, David?

Yeah, fair enough. I’ve got a moment for everyone, and naming one or two things would do a disservice to the other 50-odd people I’ve had fun with here. Saying that, completing the AIDS cycle in South Africa a few years ago has to be up there. 600 miles, 6 days with some awesome people. We finished the ride on 1st December, World AIDS Day, and it was just amazing. The malaria spraying that Colin and I took part in (which you can read about here) was such an amazing experience too. Gives you fantastic perspective on life and really changes the way you see things, even since I got back a few weeks ago. And then there’s small things that leave a huge mark: receiving a Christmas card from an employee thanking me for help throughout that year makes you proud, too. Of the business, them and everything here.

How do you think things have changed in the last 10 years within the business?

Lots has changed within the business except the values and the fact we’re still working with Nando’s. Everything else has changed in one way or another! Systems, people, brands. The lot. For me personally, things have changed because I’ve met and married my wife, Jo and the kids. It’s certainly been all change, everywhere!

The values developed over a number of years, which is your favourite and why?

I love all of the values, and in a way they’re interlinked, but my favourite has to be family. It’s got so many different angles to it too. Work family, personal family. With both you don’t always get on but you’re there for each other when the chips are down. The link between work family and personal family is the balance of maturity and depth of relationship that you can be honest when you need.

Where do you hope to see yourself and the business in the next 10 years?

I hope that the business continues to evolve and grow and is 6 times bigger than it is now.

Personally - I want to stay with the group, because of the values and because of the consistency both internally and externally. You need the honesty to be completely comfortable, and that’s what we all have here. The whole Foodie family want to make a difference and live and breath that attitude. It’s about doing the right thing for real, genuine reasons, not for show.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

It really is all about the people you’re with, while you’re working and whilst you’re at home.

Is there anything else you want to add?

A huge thank you to everybody I’ve worked with and has helped me grow whilst I’ve been here. It’s been immense.