Cardiff Breakfast Club, Thursday 16th February

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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This morning the Cardiff Breakfast Club was addressed by Peter Jones, Commercial Director of the PHS Group plc, who gave a revealing and humorous overview of “Wales’ best kept secret”: who they are, where they came from, and the reasons for their success.

Set up in 1963, by the 1990’s PHS had a turnover of £30 million. Nowadays that turnover is around £420 million, with the PHS brand now encompassing 18 different divisions, and making 7 million customer visits a year. Their Caerphilly headquarters employs 400 of their 5000-strong workforce, and they are one of the top 3 largest companies with a Welsh headquarters. All this is done with remarkably little PR or advertising; indeed, Peter mentioned that their marketing department was a relatively late development, and they have no formal HR department.

Peter discussed the immense variety of services PHS provides, including some more unusual ones. They collect and recycle everything from computers and cardboard to hazardous chemicals, and while their logo may be most recognisable from office washrooms, they also provide water coolers, record storage, landscaping (their hanging baskets are award-winning) – and Christmas trees! The festive foliage presents some particularly interesting operational challenges, as they deliver 7000 trees within 30 days, and collect them all within 10. And while the holiday may be far from our minds now, the PHS Christmas team are already planning and sourcing for Christmas 2012.

Peter described the Group’s incredibly positive working atmosphere, focussing around detailed planning and open communication. They may have no HR department, but managers are well briefed on all relevant HR processes, and communication with staff is key. Peter also attributed much of the Group’s recent achievement to Chief Executive Peter Cohen, whose approachable and hands-on approach has been a “major driving force” since he joined PHS in 1998. 35 percent of staff are female, including many senior managers, and the fast pace makes for an inspiring and rewarding environment for staff. Those seeking to take on a challenge have “definite opportunity” to do so.

PHS is committed to doing simple services well, an aim they are undoubtedly achieving. With £120 million spent on acquisitions in the last 2 years alone, future growth looks bright. Now operating in Spain and Holland (but not quite managing to “bring hygiene to the French”, Peter joked), sights are set on building their European presence to be “the best workplace services provider in Europe” – a mission statement that used to read “in the UK”.

With a refreshing corporate atmosphere, engaging customer commitment and appetite for expansion, PHS Group aren’t likely to remain Wales’ best kept secret for long.


The next Breakfast Club meeting will take place on the 14th of March, with Jonathan Ford of the Football Association of Wales. If you would like to reserve a place, please email 

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