How did you get where you are today? I qualified as a chartered accountant, more years ago than I choose to remember. I immediately left the accountancy profession and took up a senior financial role in a company producing pickles and sauces. Since then I have held senior financial and general management roles in a construction group and a quoted electronics company, before joining UFI (the parent company of Grove Fresh) as MD in 1998. The UFI group was in its embryonic stage, and in the past eight years I have taken it from a turnover of £1m to more than £75m.
What was the best decision you have made in your career and why? Probably to take notice of my grandmother, when I was 11 years old. She told me that "a chartered accountant is a very good job". Although I did not stay in the profession, the financial background has stood me in good stead throughout my career.
Whom do you most admire in grocery? My admiration goes to those who have successfully been innovative or done things differently. Tim Meads of Yeo Valley stuck to the principles of the organic movement long before it became a fashionable niche. I also admire the manner in which John Lewis Partnership developed Waitrose into a significant grocery retailer by taking a different route to market.
What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told? Success is achieved from 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. And my father told me that the three most important attributes in business were integrity, integrity and integrity.
If you could change one thing in the grocery industry, what would it be? I would like to see a government u-turn to ban GM crop testing and give positive support for natural agriculture as contained within organic principles.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? There is nothing more rewarding than receiving the accolades of ordinary people who sample our products for the first time.
If you could start your career again, what would you do differently and why? From a job satisfaction perspective, I would probably do very little differently. But from a financial point of view, I should have become a lawyer. Much less interesting but much more lucrative!
What do you like doing when you are not working? The little free time I have is spent with my family and a small circle of friends.
Where do you hope to be in five years time? I have never adopted a long-term career strategy. When my friends ask me what I will do when I retire, I tell them I will work.