Collaboration between the Group and its partners is mutually enhancing when regulated by precise policies and procedures, and it is therefore in Autogrill’s interest to identify assessment tools that verify supplier conformity, which is necessary to continue working together. Assessment and verification are indispensable to ensure high quality standards for all products and services. For this reason periodic audits have been designed, employing screening activities implemented in different ways, through questionnaires, (direct or indirect) information collection, sampling and audits.
Product quality and safety in the stores is ensured thanks to the efforts of all the players involved in the process: production, shipping, selling and distribution. This is a successful system because it starts from supplier selection and is based on the comprehensive sharing of values and objectives between the Group and its commercial partners.
Both in the United States and in Italy, all suppliers undergo preventive audits to ascertain the level of compliance with quality standards defined by the company according to H.A.C.C.P. (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) procedures, which envisage accurate microbiological analyses along the entire supply chain and are conducted periodically, according to a risk assessment logic.
Additional audits by in-house and independent specialists are also performed to verify compliance with the applicable hygiene-health standards and assess the correct implementation of the self-control plan of the management system adopted in the various countries in which the Group operates.
Again at the store level, the processes relating to food safety are very important and in this respect, the role of the store manager is essential. In 2013 a project was launched in Italy for the re-definition of the responsibilities of store managers. It included different checklists with all the activities to be performed in order to ensure proper management of the store (from food safety to health and safety in the workplace, carbon footprint issues and management of the contracts with suppliers). The documentation is made available on Aconnect and is always accessible (see also the chapter on "The importance of communication" on page 53.
Autogrill Excellence Audit
The controls implemented to ensure the safety chain on Autogrill's products, though sharing the same level of attention and professionalism, differ from country to country in relation to specific organizational aspects. In France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Greece and Poland the "Autogrill Excellence Audit" is now a well-established tool to monitor operational standards implementation and continuous improvement management both in stores and at support functions level: a team of auditors schedules audits in the stores following a shared grid of controls and assessments uploaded on a tablet equipped with a camera to be performed on the implementation of the operating processes (350 questions concerning food items, hygiene, cleaning, service and commercial operations management, safety at work, environment, non conformities management, etc...), taking also countryspecific aspects into account (local rules or concept characteristics). After the visit, the process is managed online in order to make the findings and improvement actions available to all the people involved. The results are then linked to the MBO (Management by Objectives) systems of store managers (similarly to the Mystery Client, see page 58). In addition, the "Excellence Award" assigns a yearly prize to the stores with the best scores. The use of this platform is now extended to self auditing on specific topics by the area managers.
HMSHost also has a robust food quality and safety program in place, managed by an independent company (audits are based on the Food and Drug Administration Good Guide regulation). Each store is visited at least twice yearly and the Quality Control department reviews each audit and follows up the implementation of the improvement plan. The action plan relative to the faults identified during the audit is proposed by the same store managers.
The Quality Control department monitors the performance of the stores to help the managers concentrate on the improvement areas; it organizes webinars at least twice a year, inviting the stores to participate in examining the results of the audits, the objectives and the possible changes to the program; it has regular meetings with the auditing firm and the auditors to pursue ongoing improvement and ensure that the controls are performed thoroughly, consistently and constructively. The results are used to develop action plans and are linked to the MBOs at the level of each single store.
Employee training on food safety regulations and H.A.C.C.P. processes completes the Group's focus and control on these issues.
Moreover, Autogrill, as brand licensee, is in turn subject to audits by its brand partners (this aspect of partnerships with more or less renowned brands also contributes to the unflagging maintenance of the highest quality standards) and landlords (for example, in the main stores located in airports and railway stations in Switzerland, the landlords periodically carry out audits without notice, which provide very detailed feedback on products and services compared to previous year's results and competitor data).