Far far away from the world of great food, I started my career as an Engineering Apprentice with Rolls Royce PLC where I worked in the aircraft industry for 10 years. Initially as an engineer I then moved into production management. While in the role I did a MBA at night school and became fascinated with the whole process of running a business and not just the manufacturing function.
After completing my MBA I moved on to Motorola producing mobile phones and progressed my career by moving into the role of Operations Manager. After receiving the unfortunate news that the site was to shut in 2001, I needed to find work in a role that wouldn’t end up in the Far East. It was at this point that I decided to move into the food and drink sector.
The food industry has been a wonderful adventure, at times it proves challenging, but overall I can honestly say it’s a very fulfilling career. My first role in the food industry was with Bakkavor, while there I progressed from Manufacturing Manager to General Manager and since then have had the privilege of running several companies (Premier Foods, Vion, Dawnfresh, Finnebrogue Artisan) in a Managing Director capacity.
For me, the real recipe for success in the food industry is to merge passion for food with world class processes and systems. This ensures not only food safety but that the end product delights the consumer every time.
Over the last 15 years’ the food industry has been on a massive journey with the landscape of major players changing drastically with several mergers and acquisitions. There has been a big focus on lowering costs to ensure the major retailer can deliver exceptional value. Here lies the danger for most major companies – in food you cannot simply become a factory producing food. You need to be the largest and most efficient kitchen, creating sensational meal occasions and never losing that spark of passion for the product you make.
My career to date has been built on my ability to ensure the business engages with the staff to guarantee buy-in across the company. This requires clearly defining accountability and ownership at all levels but backing this up by delegating responsibility and truly empowering people. This was the attraction of Finnebrogue Artisan as it already combined a passion for food with a motivated workforce and a truly entrepreneurial owner and foodie in Denis Lynn. Denis’s ambition has always been to significantly grow the business but never at the expense of its core value, the love for great artisan food.
So my challenge is to manage the growth of a very successful business without losing our staff engagement and core values. To date, we have successfully managed this by growing the business from £18M to £55M in two years’ while increasing our staff by approx. 200 during this period. We have also won every major accolade that we can and have grown our customers market ahead of the market.
Here at Finnebrogue Artisan we ensure everyone understands and shares our passion. It is also of great importance to us that we provide them the tools and support to ensure nothing stops them delivering this passion for fabulous food.