How did you get to where you are today?
I have been retail, sales and marketing director for the past five years at Merchant Gourmet. Prior to Merchant Gourmet I worked in sales and marketing roles for Prince's Foods and Shipmans for two years, and for six years at New Covent Garden Soup Company as sales director and MD. I started my career at United Biscuits, where I spent seven years in a number of sales and marketing roles.
My past experience has definitely helped me in my role at Merchant Gourmet. I started my career in a big company where they provided me with all the training and experience I needed. But now, working for a smaller company, I can stamp my own mark on the brand.
Tell us a bit about Merchant Gourmet
Merchant Gourmet is a fine food importer and distributor, separated into three divisions - retail, foodservice and ingredients. It was formed 25 years ago and is privately-owned with a turnover of about £33m a year.
The aim of the company is to make life simpler. We want to make it more convenient for people to cook for themselves. Our products are listed in Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Asda and Morrisons. We have 200 suppliers, 1,500 product lines and a wide customer base.
What are the company's plans going forward?
We have just finished a major rebranding of Merchant Gourmet. It is the first time that the range has been given a new look in 11 years, and it involved 60 suppliers. As part of this we also changed our web site and advertising, so although it was great fun, it has been a lot of hard work over the past 12 months.
We are also planning to introduce a number of new products in chilled and ambient. We have just started presenting a couscous mix (a new concept that comes in separate pots) to retailers. We are presenting two couscous products and two quinoa, which is an emerging grain, and so far we have had a good reception.
What is your working week like?
My working week is very varied. It can involve tastings, meeting suppliers, marketing, brand design and working on new product development. Recently, I spent a few days in New York, which was very useful, especially because Whole Foods Market is opening in London next year.
I also like to get out of the office because I find that you learn more out and about than in. I really enjoy the scope to work with people who are passionate about food.