I had no ambitions to get into food but I joined the sector in 1987 as a graduate trainee production manager with Marshall Food Group, a big UK poultry processor. I was there for 11 years, rising to the position of general manager of its Newbridge site. I left at the end of 1997 to join Macrae Food Group as general manager of its Peterhead factory. In 2000 I moved across to become managing director of Strathaird Salmon when it was acquired by Macrae. I was promoted to chief executive officer of Macrae in 2003 and the following year the company was sold to Young's Seafood. In 2005 I set up the Food Investment Group, with Bill Hazeldean, and in November 2005 we acquired Thomas Food Partnership, followed by Meadowbrook Bakery.
Tell us a bit about Thomas Food Group.
Thomas Food Group blind bakes pastry and manufactures quiche and savoury pastry products for Waitrose, Morrisons, Asda and Marks & Spencer. When we acquired Thomas Food Group it had a turnover of £8.9m and Meadowbrook had a turnover of £5m. This year, turnover is more than £30m.
What has been keeping you busy lately?
We have been working hard to get Meadowbrook set up. Thomas Food Group is a relatively stable business but with Meadowbrook we have started from scratch so there's lots to do. We are concentrating on improving our blind-bake process to keep ahead of our competitors.
What are your plans for 2007?
A big area of growth is food to go and we are really interested in going into this. Although quiche will always be our core business we also want to widen our portfolio to make it more diverse. We are looking at acquiring two relatively small specialist bakers to work alongside our party food ranges. We also hope to have another customer signed up by March at the latest.
What is your working week like?
I'm fairly hands-on and always very busy. But I have a lot of travelling to do. I have quite a young family and because of my work, they have had to move around a lot. We've put down roots in the west of Scotland so this means that I have to commute to Thomas Food Group, in Sheffield, and Meadowbrook, in Milton Keynes. I travel down on Monday and return Thursday or Friday. At the weekend I put 100% into my home life.