Joining Yorkshire-based Northern Dairies in 1962, he transformed it, as Northern Foods, into a major force in chilled foods, and served as chairman for more than 20 years
What has been the defining moment of your career?
Meeting a noisy guy from M&S on a plane going from London to Belfast in 1968. His name was Bob Stephens. I asked what he was up to. He said it was very hush-hush, but M&S was coming to Belfast and he needed to source a supply of chickens, as you weren’t allowed to bring in your own.
I said to him, “What are you doing about cream?” He said, “We’ll bring it in.” I said “No, you won’t. You’re not allowed that either.” We ended up with a £300m business from M&S.
What has been the key moment in grocery industry?
The introduction of central chilled distribution of food. Without that, the supermarkets would never have got where they did.
What’s been the most influential product launch over the past 150 years?
Yoghurt. It’s the only genuinely new product in my lifetime. It was available in remote parts of Europe - it’s now universal.
How important a tool has The Grocer been to your career?
It was a great source of information, on which the industry fed. I used to write a column, too.