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Long Service Q&A with Steve and Annette Hadley

September 04, 2019

Steve and Annette

In July, husband and wife Steve and Annette Hadley from Group Trading and Blakemore Foodservice achieved two significant long service milestones with A.F. Blakemore.

Steve achieved 35 years with the business and Annette achieved 40 years – giving them an incredible combined service of 75 years!

We caught up with them both to find out more about their time at Blakemore’s:

How did you both get your first job at Blakemore’s?

Annette: In 1979 I started on a youth opportunity scheme. It was only for nine months, but I was offered a permanent role and I’m still here.

Steve: In 1984 I needed a few extra quid whilst I was doing my A-Levels. Via a family friend, I heard that there were some part-time evening jobs available at Walsall Cash & Carry. I called in for an interview and started the next day.

Did you meet at Blakemore’s or did you know each other beforehand?

Annette: We met at work. Stephen worked in the same department as my friend. He played for the Blakemore indoor cricket team. A group of us would often go and watch them play after work.

Steve: We met at Walsall C&C. We worked together quite often and saw each other at Blakemore social events. A mortgage, a wedding and two children followed…Andrew, now 28, used to work for the Wholesale side of the business, and Louise now works for Wholesale Distribution, so you could say that we have kept it in the family.

Can you remember your first day? 

Annette: My manager was Diane Terry. She introduced me to everyone and then I spent the day in reception. I remember being really nervous but everyone was lovely. Two other girls started on the same day as me, Barbara and Sandra Hince. They are still my best friends now, 40 years on. 

Steve: I can remember how BIG the depot seemed when I was first shown around. I was shown into the back-up freezer…and the door shut behind me. Luckily it was opened again a few minutes later (although it seemed a lot longer).

Can you tell us about the different job roles you have done during your time at the company?

Annette: At Walsall C&C, when I first started on my Youth Training Scheme, I worked in the general office and reception. I then worked in both grocery and wine store departments. After that I moved to the buying office and goods received office. I worked evenings and weekends in the cashpoint when our children Andrew and Louise were young. I then moved to Foodservice, where I worked on telesales and in customer service for both Marston’s and local authorities. I then worked in the buying office as an assistant and then as a buyer. I have also worked in the bonus office, and I am now currently working as a telesales advisor in the free trade department.

Steve: When at Walsall depot, I am sure that I worked on every section and did every job. I even “dressed” turkeys one Christmas…I am sure that I could still do that now. I then moved up to head office at Willenhall in the Trading department where, again, I think that I have done most of the jobs you could think of…More recently I have taken up a more analytical role in the Supply Chain department, where I am responsible for availability and stockholding amongst other things.

What are the biggest changes you have seen Blakemore’s go through in the time you have been here? 

Annette: When I first started, there were only two C&Cs, Walsall and Great Brickkiln Street, with the head office on Leamore Lane. 

Steve: How much the sheer scale of the business has changed since I started. 

What do you enjoy most about working here? 

Annette: I spend most of my day on the phone taking customers’ orders and helping them with any queries. I have my own set of customers and I have built up a good relationship with them. I find this rewarding. I work with lovely people too, we all get on really well and often meet up outside of work.

Steve: Call me sad, but I love puzzles, graphs and charts. A big part of my job is to create reports and charts that show how well the Supply Chain team is performing against its targets….almost like a busman’s holiday in reverse.

Do you have any favourite memories?

Annette: I won the Pro-Wholesaler National Telesales Achiever of the Year award. The prize was £1,000, which I used towards taking the family to New York.

Steve: The first time that I had to go to a corporate “do” and wear a dress suit (dickie, cummerbund, bracers...the works), I felt like a right idiot...until I walked into a room of 200 other people doing the same. I am pleased to say that I used to help organise the Wholesale Charity Golf Day, and over 24 years we raised in excess of £250,000 for charities and good causes. One of the years I booked an act called “The Helmet Brothers” – if you were there, you would remember these too!

Are there any perks of working for the same organisation as your other half?

Annette: We share many of the same friends that we have met through work.

Steve: It’s been over 30 years since we have worked in the same depot, or for the same division, so in real terms we haven’t worked “together”…but we do know most of the same people.

If you hadn’t started working at Blakemore’s where do you think you would be now? 

Annette: I would have liked to have maybe worked in travel. To be honest though I’m happy with the way things have worked out.

Steve: My original intention was to work part-time whilst doing my A-Levels before going to university, but having a few quid in my pocket suddenly became a bit more attractive. If I had carried on to uni, I would have done something mathematical or analytical…so, in fact, I probably wouldn’t be doing something far too different to what I am now.

Annette and Barb

Annette pictured in Walsall depot with Barbara Hince back in 1979

Annette and Steve

Steve & Annette, back in 1987

Steve and the cricket team

Steve pictured with the original Blakemore Indoor Cricket team in 1985 (back row, second from left)

Annette receives her long service award

Annette receiving her 40-year service award from Group Logistics Director Andy Grinsell


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