How did you get to where you are today?
I'm a food technologist by qualification but have spent most of my career on the commercial side. I started out at Nestlé then moved to Edenvale, before joining Elizabeth Shaw for the first time as national sales manager. I stayed in that role from 1983 to 1988 before moving to Burton's Foods, where I was export general manager and marketing director. In 2000 I left Burton's Foods to set up my own innovation company specialising in core manufacturing. Six years later, the opportunity arose at Elizabeth Shaw. I've come back as its marketing director and have now been there for just over two months.
Why did you return to Elizabeth Shaw?
Elizabeth Shaw has been manufacturing confectionery products at its facility in Bristol for more than 100 years. However, the factory was very old and the decision had to be made to look at different means of working. The company decided to move to core manufacturing and in January this year announced that the site in Bristol would close. We are now finalising details and have recently signed an agreement with three partners - Bendicks, Magna Specialist Confectioners and Stollwerck - to manufacture our existing products. The existing team has been very busy making sure that core manufacturing can work, which has taken several months.
How have your first two months in the role been?
Hectic! I have worked with Elizabeth Shaw's portfolio - which includes mint crisps, liqueur truffles and vodka shots - before and have stayed in the biscuit and confectionery market, so I am very knowledgeable about the sector. Because of this, I have been able to hit the ground running. I am responsible for driving growth of the company's core ranges and introducing new products. I also have to make sure that the operational side of the business is functioning and that customer requirements are satisfied for Christmas. I have also travelled to potential core manufacturers, visiting Poland and Iceland.
What are your plans for 2006 and beyond?
The company has a heritage and consumer awareness that has been under-exploited due to a lack of resources. I want to look at our total operations to see how to take this forward. We will ramp up support over the next few years and look at core manufacturing to extend our product offer. Icelandic company Noi Sirius bought into the business in March and has ambitious plans.