What is your career background?
I was a chartered accountant but joined forces with my old school friend Angus Cameron to launch a coffee company that supplied coffee beans and machines to London restaurants. In 1992 we decided to look for a complementary business to run alongside the coffee business so when we saw an advert for a nut business for sale in The Sunday Times we thought it would be a good fit. We bought the company, Dormen Foods, and three years later sold the coffee business to concentrate on nuts.
Tell us a bit about Dormen Foods
Dormen Foods is a premium supplier of nuts and snacks with products including cashews, mixed nuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamias and peanuts. We take pride in providing a better grade of nut. We source the finest nuts from around the world and then bake and roast them at our premises in Swindon, Wiltshire. Our products go through various processes including cleaning, sieving, visual inspection, roasting and salting. We rely on a big team effort as we're only a small company. It currently has a turnover of about £4.5m, and employs 28 people. We have built up our reputation by supplying cocktail nuts and mini bar nuts to luxury hotels across Europe. We also have a retail brand. We started the brand in delicatessens, farm shops, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason, but we are now mainstream with listings in Tesco and Booths.
What has been keeping you busy recently?
We have been increasing our investment in the brand and have redesigned our packaging to reflect the company's heritage of supplying five-star hotels. The new packaging features photography of a uniformed butler. It evokes cocktail hour. We are backing this with a consumer press campaign. We have also launched two new products in the healthier-for-you range - nuts baked to bring out the flavour. We've also been working on our listing at Tesco. Previously our products were on clip strips but we'll have SKU shelf space in August. We're talking to other multiples and hope to do business with them as well.
What are your plans for 2006 and beyond?
We are planning various other new products later this year and will continue to drive investment in the sector. We're planning new products for the retail sector and want to cement our position as the premium nut supplier.