lara squire westons

Name: Lara Squire

Age: 24

Job title: Off-trade and international customer marketing manager

Company & location: Westons Cider, Herefordshire

Education: BA modern languages & cultures, Durham University

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? As part of my course at Durham, I had the opportunity to spend a year in Italy, where I supported the marketing teams at two wines and spirits companies. It’s easy to get passionate about the drinks industry once you’ve been immersed in Italian drinking culture, where sharing a drink means so much: time together, special occasions, friends, family. When I returned to the UK to finish my degree, I knew that the food and drink world was for me.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): I lead the creation and implementation of Westons Cider’s customer marketing plans across the off-trade channel, including grocery and impulse accounts – I’m the link between the brand and sales team. I recently took on the responsibility for international customer marketing as well, which, given my linguistic background, feels like the perfect challenge for me.

More from My Food Job: Paris Baker, national sales executive, Lo Bros

What does a typical day look like for you? There is no such thing as a typical day but if I’m in the Westons office in Herefordshire, I’ll be planning or reviewing our in-store, online and experiential activity. More often than not, I’m out and about meeting various stakeholders, such as key customers, attending conferences and spending time in-store to keep my ear to the ground on innovative ways to inspire and recruit new consumers. The wider strategy development part of the role is what really interests me – I’m constantly getting under the skin of each brand, and each retailer, to find out who the shopper is and identifying the best ways to reach them.

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. How many stages were there, what did you have to do? Any particularly tough questions? My Westons story is quite unconventional – I visited the mill on a team awayday in a previous role and was struck by the fantastic atmosphere, passionate people and idyllic setting. I contacted the head of brands at the time, who directed me to the head of customer marketing and insight. After a two-step interview, I was offered a role in the NPD team. At the second interview, I was asked to prepare a short presentation about the role of craft cider in the on and off-trade – a challenge that I relished, and one which gave me a good indication of where the Westons business was heading.

“We are lucky enough to be supporting a family business with a wonderful heritage, so the brands mean even more to us”

What’s the best part about working for a food company? In short – marketing drinks is fun! I get to work with a fantastic team of talented, hard-working and like-minded people who share a passion for the world of drinks. Working at Westons in particular, we are lucky enough to be supporting a family business with a wonderful heritage, which focuses on crafting traditional and authentic ciders, so the brands mean even more to us than they might at other companies. The cider category is really dynamic at the moment; it’s an area of the market with huge potential for growth. Westons have ambitious growth targets to meet and exciting innovation in the pipeline, so it’s a very energetic and inspiring place to work.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? That marketing drinks is easy – it’s not! In reality, securing a listing in the off-trade or getting one of our ciders on the bar requires huge amounts of time and resource, but this is just the first step. We then have to encourage the consumer to choose our category versus other alcoholic drinks and finally, get them to choose our brand. This requires enormous commitment to making the brand relevant to that person, in that outlet and on that occasion. The other big misconception is that we spend all day drinking – though don’t get me wrong, there is often a bit of quality control!

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Never stop learning from other people and be a sponge for information and knowledge about every drinks category: beer, cider, wines and spirits. While all drinks categories compete for the same consumer, they have very different dynamics, so understanding as much as you can about all categories is essential to working in any drinks industry role. Next, be open to new experiences, even if they take you down a path you hadn’t planned on. In the end these will just make you more commercially well-rounded. There’s always room to grow in the drinks industry.

What’s your ultimate career dream? Being part of the development and successful launch of new products, like Stowford Press Mixed Berries, at Westons has been invaluable experience. My ultimate dream would be to create, build and market my own range of premium, authentic alcoholic drinks brands to pass on to future generations, but right now I’m happy learning.

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