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A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd

The Leading the Blakemore Way programme helped generate common purpose; highlighting shared values, culture and aspirations during a significant acquisition and merger of two large family businesses.

The brief:

A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd is a fourth-generation family business that celebrated its centenary in 2017. The food and drink retailer, wholesale and distributor, is one of the UK’s largest privately-owned businesses with a strong heritage of corporate social responsibility. The company has now worked with The Mind at Work for over a decade, originally to support in embedding the company’s values The Blakemore Way. This came at a key moment in the organisation’s history as it embarked on a large-scale expansion plan, which included the acquisition and merger of fellow family-owned SPAR wholesaler Capper & Co Ltd, in in 2011.

What we did:

Upon the completion of a diagnostic across the business, work began with the company’s Group Board in embedding a leadership development programme entitled Leading the Blakemore Way (LTBW). Following a comprehensive programme with the Group Board, LTBW was subsequently cascaded throughout the company’s wider leadership team, including all those who had joined the business from Capper & Co. This approach helped generate a common purpose, highlighting the shared values across this new enlarged group of companies, enabling a successful merging of the Blakemore and Capper cultures. The Mind at Work also developed a team of internal experts across A.F. Blakemore via an intensive train-the-trainer programme, which has allowed the business to upskill the remainder of its management team, especially those within its 300-strong SPAR store estate.


A.F. Blakemore has an employee-base of circa 8,000 colleagues. Since 2008 more than 1,500 leaders across the business have participated in a three or two-day LTBW programme, with around 1,000 of these trained by the company’s internal champions. LTBW is now an integral part of the company’s culture and can be seen in the way the company conducts meetings, delivers performance development reviews and is measured within employee engagement surveys. The Mind at Work has provided strategic support and has also partnered A.F. Blakemore in developing a bespoke Graduate Programme and more recently jointly created an innovative school resilience programme called Helping You Succeed. The Mind at Work looks to continue its partnership with A.F. Blakemore in 2021 as part of a new Advanced Programme for the company’s senior leadership team.

The Leading the Blakemore Way programme developed in partnership with The Mind at Work has been an integral part of the A.F. Blakemore culture for more than a decade. It has helped embed responsive and responsible leadership across the organisation, allowing us to become more resilient, agile and innovative in a rapidly changing market.

Ian Diment – Group HR & Strategy Director, A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd


Watch now: Helping You Succeed

Discover more about The Mind at Work’s innovative student resilience collaboration.

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