As Bennett Opie, a family firm with a long pedigree in the grocery and foodservice sectors, approaches its 125th anniversary, business has never been as brisk.
Based in Sittingbourne, Kent, the company has watched as demand for its products, which include pickled walnuts, olives and cocktail syrups, took off over the past 10 years.
And as business development manager, Darril Ling manages the sales force that helps to feed that demand by working in partnership with retailers to market its products.
Ling has worked for Bennett Opie for three years. Previously he was national account controller for Askeys UK, which makes cones, wafers and fans for ice creams.
Most of his work is office-based, he says, although almost one third of his time is spent visiting his customers, which include Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury.
He has been looking at a new own label range for Sainsbury, but refuses to divulge any further details, except to say: “That has meant working with everyone, from buyers to food technologists, taking a homemade recipe from conception to launch.”
Meanwhile, his focus for
Marks and Spencer has been its Café Revive brand, which the retailer is considering transforming into an own label product.
“We are looking at recipe development at the moment. However, utimately, that is something that will very much be down to what Marks and Spencer believes is right for the consumer.”
Other than the ongoing projects, Ling says he has been finalising Bennett Opie’s budget for 2004-2005 and preparing for this week’s London Bar Show. The 125th anniversary is next year.
Ling says that his job will involve him looking beyond business in the UK. “My main focus over the next few months will be the development of exports to Hungary,” he says.explains.
developing long and distinguished lines