How did you get where you are today?
I've actually only been in this role for nearly two months. Some would say I have had quite an unconventional career. I started out as an engineer building roads and bridges, before moving into agency work for the music industry. I then spent three-and-a half-years at Irn Bru before joining the Tussauds Group as marketing manager for Alton Towers. I stayed in that role for four years, then in June, moved to Rustlers as senior brand manager where I am responsible for above-the-line activity, product development and brand strategy.
Tell us a bit about Rustlers
Rustlers is the category leader in hot microwaveable convenience snacks. It launched in 2000 with two products and last year achieved sales of £70m. It is an exceptional self-contained product with a good range, including Flame Grilled Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Flame Grilled BBQ Ribsteak, Fully Cooked Hot Dog, Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich and All Day Breakfast Bap. It has a huge distribution and is available in all the major multiples, convenience retailers and petrol forecourts. We are in an area of the market where we can fit into consumer lifestyles, aiming for the 16 to 34 year-old 'can't cook, won't cooks' who can grab the product after work, after sport, on the go, or for convenience.
How are you finding the role so far?
Great. The company is only six years old so it is young and fresh. Most are driven by their history but at Rustlers anything is possible. There is a real sense of free thinking. I am pleased to be back in the food and drink industry. In my opinion, fmcg is the blue chip of marketing. You really have to go back to the first principles of marketing and focus on understanding the brand and consumers.
What has been keeping you busy recently?
It was good timing joining Rustlers because we relaunch in September. Working on the organisation has been great fun but there are a few butterflies because we will be working with new packaging and suppliers. We have conducted extensive research into what customers want, developed new designs, packaging and innovation and increased our range of menu options. I have been working on the communication between operations, sales, internal staff, factories and agencies. Going forward we want to drive growth in the category, expand and we're not ruling out anything in the food sector.