Aidan Tyers itsu [grocery]

Name: Aidan Tyers

Job title: Joint managing director

Company: Itsu [grocery]

What was your first job? Technically a paper round, but I was only paid £7.50 a week! That was followed by a proper job in JD Sports – the free K-Swiss trainers as part of the uniform being the highlight!

What’s been your worst job interview? While I was home from university, I thought it would be a good idea to try my hand at being a car mechanic, despite knowing nothing about it.

The interview finished after five minutes and the car drivers of Blackburn were saved to drive another day.

What was the first music single you bought? Sadly, I think it was a Five single, not sure which one. Luckily my music choices have improved since then (I think…)

How do you describe your job to your friends? My friends really like the Itsu gyoza range, so discussions tend to focus around our products, but they will take any and every opportunity to take me down a peg or two.

I think their favourite is head of dumplings/head dumpling.

“We need a richer mix of people coming into grocery through entry-level roles”

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Getting a product to shelf after hundreds of tastings and incredible teamwork, to then hear how much consumers have enjoyed it.

It’s been the case with launches like our Itsu miso ramen brilliant broth, Itsu noodle box in food to go and katsu bao in frozen – so we’ve been able to enjoy it a fair amount recently.

What is the least rewarding part? Reading (and understanding), amending and negotiating contract T&Cs, they’re never ending.

What is your motto in life? Control the controllables – clichéd, but has always worked for me.

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? Anything that gives me more opportunity to travel and experience more of the world… that, or free trainers.

Itsu grocery range

Do you have any phobias? Predictably, spiders.

My mother-in-law actually likes them, I caught her trying to feed some chorizo to a house spider a few years ago.

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? Greater diversity in all forms, but specifically in head office functions.

We need a richer mix of people coming into grocery through entry level roles – we’re working with the Early Careers Foundation to support this through mentoring, but other organisations such as Psalt are doing some really important work in this space.

What luxury would you have on a desert island? It would have to be my iPhone, mainly so I could call for help but also so I can listen to music – i.e. more Fiv…I mean Bonobo/Jasper Tygner.

What animal most reflects your personality? Probably a meerkat. I get most enjoyment from working with others, together, for the same goals.

What’s your favourite film and why? Gladiator, for that speech.

What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? Chopstick skills are pretty important when working at Itsu [grocery].

My first visit to a supplier in Korea really exposed this. The shame of being covered in kimchi and handed a fork halfway through each meal still lives with me to this day.

Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? Barack Obama – inspirational and will have some incredible stories, but also someone you could probably have a beer with.

What would your death row meal be? A pie from The Parkers Arms near Clitheroe in Lancashire. If you’re in the area, go!

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