Allan English, the founder and executive chairman of Silver Chef Group, is a genuinely inspirational leader. He doesn’t just promote exceptionally big ideas; he makes them happen.
The true story behind the unique Rent-Try-Buy® approach
When he showed up at a trade show in the United States 30 years ago, Allan discovered a new style of pizza oven. He knew it was a design that would forever change the way pizzas were made. English went about finding a business partner, and together they invested in bringing the pizza ovens to the Australian market.
Like any great story, there was a challenge. Many businesses they approached in Australia could not afford to buy the pizza ovens, so the pair decided to rent them out. Businesses that had rented ovens eventually bought them and the idea behind Silver Chef — a funding approach called Rent-Try-Buy — was born.
Silver Chef Group does business by helping other businesses in hospitality
Today, Silver Chef is Australia’s only dedicated hospitality funding solution. The company has helped over 30,000 businesses — from small start-ups to large hotels and restaurants — achieve their goals.
English says he thought the Rent-Try-Buy concept was “so clean and simple, it’s got to work — and it obviously does”.
After many successful years providing a flexible funding option to the hospitality market, an opportunity presented to broaden the product to fund the greater commercial equipment market. In 2008, GoGetta, a division of Silver Chef Group, was launched, offering flexible funding to a variety of industries, including the transport and construction industries.
An Australian company with global social purpose
English is also well known for his ambitious philanthropic work. Silver Chef Group, in partnership with the English Family Foundation and Opportunity International Australia, has broken more than 675,000 people free from the cycle of poverty. It wants to save 1.5 million people from poverty by 2020.
“I consider myself a purpose-driven entrepreneur. I am motivated by the purpose of making a difference. Fortunately, we attract extraordinarily good talent into our organisations: people who are aligned to that purpose; people who want to have a career, make good money, but also want to be aligned to a purpose that is greater than just making profits for the shareholders,” English says.
In 2010, when the English Family Foundation was formed, 50% of Silver Chef Group’s shares went to the foundation, making it the largest shareholder and providing Silver Chef employees added incentive to do great work.
Through English’s efforts, Silver Chef became a Certified B Corporation in June 2015. ‘B Corps’ use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and are formally certified by the non-profit B Lab. B Corporation certification recognises Silver Chef’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility. It reinforces that, as a business, its core values and culture, which encompass helping others, are as much of a focus as bottom-line profitability.
Silver Chef Group staff are engaged
Silver Chef and GoGetta have a very low rate of staff turnover and have been ranked as one of BRW’s Top 50 Places to Work in Australia for four consecutive years. Aside from Silver Chef’s purpose-driven culture, staff enjoy flexible working arrangements and other perks, including corporate private health cover, a well-stocked wellbeing fridge, and ongoing training and development.
Silver Chef key facts
- Company name: Silver Chef Group
- Headquarters: Brisbane, Australia
- Number of employees: 360 across Australia, New Zealand & Canada
- Annual turnover: $171 million (2015 financial year)
- B Corporation profile: http://bcorporation.com.au/community/silver-chef
- Industry: Hospitality & Tourism