Associated British Foods (ABF) is an international food, ingredients and retail group operating in 47 countries. They approached Cohesion in June 2015, to discuss outsourcing their Graduate Recruitment Programme.


“Cohesion stood out to us straight away because of their personal approach. Our team connected with theirs almost instantly. They’re an extremely personable team with a high level of professionalism.”



Having previously worked with a different provider, ABF were looking for a partner who could offer a consultative approach with a personal touch. There were 25 Graduate vacancies, over 6 Graduate schemes – Marketing, Engineering, Supply Chain, Customer Development, Procurement and Technical.


“They really went the extra mile to understand our business and our graduate programme. Cohesion were able to identify what was going well and where any issues were, as well as provide proposed solutions very quickly – that really impressed us.”


Our Relationship with ABF

The campaign kicked off on 1st September 2015, and we received over 400 applications within the first fortnight. Given the early success of the campaign, we caught up with Holly Maiden, Graduate Talent Manager, to get her take on the implementation, the opening weeks of the campaign and working with Cohesion:

“Throughout the implementation period, the team have engaged with all of our stakeholders – including previous graduates, line managers and sponsors. They’ve visited the sites and really got to grips with what it’s like to work with us. Cohesion really do feel like an extension of our HR team.

The willingness to understand our business and our people has also meant that there are increased levels of visibility – everyone knows what’s going on, and have met or heard from the team at Cohesion.

The implementation was great, and very smooth. It’s been a nice experience for me because I’ve been so relaxed. Cohesion are in control and I’m very comfortable with that – the trust element is really important to us, it’s a key part of our relationship – it’s definitely there.

A social media strategy has also been developed by Cohesion, which is amazing. We always start a social media campaign with good intentions but they seem to tail off, mostly due to time constraints. Having a social media presence is really important, Cohesion are managing this for us and it’s already making a huge difference this year – I think this is our biggest year yet in terms of applications.

Above all I have been very impressed with the personal approach – we’re working on the same level and there’s a real connection there. Cohesion probe and go under the surface, there’s a real consultative approach and it’s good to be questioned on what we’re doing – it means we are pushing ourselves to build a very robust process.

I’m really excited about our partnership and can’t wait to see the results of the campaign when it comes to meeting our shortlisted graduates in January.”



In total, we received 2769 applications for the Graduate roles. We received a large number of applications for the Customer Development and Marketing vacancies – which had proven challenging to attract for in the past. The applications came from an extremely diverse talent pool – with a variety of candidates of different genders, ethnicities and religious backgrounds.

We filled all 25 of the roles for ABF – 5 roles were declined – but, due to the size of the talent pool, we were able to make 5 more offers quickly, to ensure that all the roles were filled at the earliest opportunity. As well as filling the roles, there were also 11 candidates that were identified for direct roles within ABF.

At assessment centre stage, we received 100% attendance – with 83% of candidates being offered roles.

We also made a number of recommendations to ABF, to help improve their Graduate Recruitment Process. For example, we suggested that they make their website more user-friendly – adding on a page about the Graduate community.


“The service Cohesion has delivered so far definitely scores a 10 out of 10. It has been brilliant and the implementation has gone really well.”



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