LDC Top 50 2023
Aged 21, Luke Consiglio bought a small sandwich shop in Hayes. Today, The Pantry is a £17 million turnover contract caterer with 550 staff, which feeds 35,000 children a day across 140 schools.
Now 39, Consiglio is a passionate entrepreneur, balancing growth with a desire to do good. From The Pantry’s Soil Association accreditation to its food donations to homeless shelters and its work with families to promote healthy living, “we never compromise on our values”, he says. Consiglio has a waiting list of schools – here and abroad – desperate for his meals. “Working with food and giving kids healthy meals – this job is a dream come true.”
The dream is to become the biggest in our industry, feeding more children every day than any other company.”
What are your ambitions for this business?
We could be twice the size we are, but my ambition is to grow without ever compromising quality. The dream is to become the biggest in our industry, feeding more children every day than any other company.
How do you get the best out of your team?
We do giveaways and competitions every month and, at Christmas, we have Willy Wonka-style Golden Tickets, where staff can win trips and prizes. Our managers’ targets are mostly based on how their staff feel about them. We also have a “TLC” list of staff who are going through a tough time. Perhaps their partner has lost their job or the family is going through a bereavement. HR will call them up and check in on them. This is why we get 100 job applications for every opening.
What was your toughest time in business?
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, I was working seven days a week feeding keyworkers’ children. I would leave the house at 4am and come home at 10pm – I wasn’t seeing my kids. It’s hard to remember it all now but I was going out and mixing with people at a time when the news was telling my wife it was dangerous. That was tough.