Matthew Moyles headshot

Name: Matthew Moyes

Job title: Marketing controller

Company: Empire Bespoke Foods, owner of pickle brand Mrs Elswood and world food brand Thai Taste

What was your first job? I grew up in New Zealand, in my summer holidays I shovelled chicken manure into bags then sold it to home-owners wanting to super-size their tomatoes. My first career-job was in marketing for a New Zealand shellfish company – we owned farms, factories and supplied the likes of Migros in Switzerland and Trader Joe’s in the US.

What’s been your worst job interview? I was on my way to meet marketing recruitment agency Stop Gap on 7 July 2005 when my train was halted due to the London bombings. I ran to Richmond, and was, ah, somewhat dishevelled. They understood. It was an interview on par with Spud Murphy (Trainspotting fans will know what I mean).

What was the first music single you bought? Dexys Midnight Runners ‘Come On Eileen’ from Woolworths in Crowborough, 1982.

How do you describe your job to your friends? I accentuate the pickle bit – gherkins are such humble things but I find there is massive curiosity when friends know I’m ‘on the inside’. The number of friends who have Mrs Elswood gherkins in their fridges but don’t know much about the brand is frightening. ‘Oh, the one with the lady on it?’ is the general reaction. Sigh!

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Without doubt, the people bit. I am doing my best to help the team achieve their own potential and to bring the right people into the business. Getting the people piece right has a far greater impact on the overall business than any single initiative.

What is the least rewarding part? I now have a greater appreciation for just how strategic my former role with snacking company Pladis was, helping drive McVitie’s penetration in markets like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and India. At Empire Bespoke Brands, we are a comparatively small, family-run business, I’m naturally closer to the coalface – with a difference balance between strategy and tactics.

What is your motto in life? Do your best, it’s better than not having a go. I tried to start up a honey business some years back – made many mistakes and learnt lots in the process. I’m also trying to pick more daisies – metaphorically!

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? I would love a deeper involvement in the cultivation side of Mrs Elswood gherkins – perhaps a sabbatical planting and harvesting cucumbers one year?

Do you have any phobias? Snakes. That is a direct result of growing up in New Zealand – one of the two countries in the world where there are none!

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? More nurturing of incubator brands. It’s great to see retailers having incubator programmes, through which the likes of BrewDog, Propercorn, Fever-Tree and Graze have emerged.

What luxury would you have on a desert island? A concrete wall, a tennis racket (or two) and a couple of balls.

What’s your favourite film and why? Paris, Texas directed by Wim Wenders, for its cinematic poetry – with a soundtrack completely in-step with the film.

What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? My car once broke down when exiting a ferry (I was near the front) – nothing like 150 impatient holiday makers honking horns to focus the mind.

Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? I’m not really a celebrity follower, but I tend to like working with people who are interested in the whole process. By this I mean inquisitive minds that probe, for instance: why are Mrs Elswood pickles all planted, grown and picked outside, naturally? Or, how are the little green cucumbers put in jars?

What would your death row meal be? There is a family-run restaurant in the hills behind Beirut, Lebanon where they serve what they grow and farm – and have been doing so long before such a concept was fashionable. Their food is made and served with love and put simply, it’s in a league of its own.

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