In the hot seat

Gerard McAdorey, Managing Director, Free’ist

Gerard McAdorey, Managing Director, Free’ist

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I was brought up in Belfast and have built my career here working for FMCG companies including C&C and Jacobs. I felt there was an opportunity to connect great brands with new routes to market and, in 2000, decided to combine my experience and connections to set up GM Marketing, distributing food, pharmacy and grocery products across the UK and Ireland. Noticing a gap in the market for quality, great tasting sugar-free foods, I then launched Free’ist in 2013.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE?

Whilst days are varied, one routine I try to stick to is an early morning run with a few pals around the tow path in Belfast. After that I’ll typically be in the office working alongside our 30+ team reviewing brand performance and assessing opportunities and priorities. I may have meetings with our commercial or marketing teams or be on the road meeting with existing or potential retail partners. We recently secured major listings for our new Free’ist jelly lines across Ireland and are in the midst of securing international listings for the range – so it’s a busy and exciting time for us.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

Building the Free’ist brand continues to be hugely rewarding as I have watched it grow from a concept through to an established brand, winning best Grocer brand launch and a gold Blas na Eireann to name a few accolades – and seeing it received positively by consumers and industry alike. Our recent rebrand exercise has given Free’ist even more impetus for growth.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Seeing our product innovation coming to life through positive consumer and trade feedback is hugely satisfying. And whilst we work hard, the company culture allows for fun along the way – I think that balance is important for businesses of all sizes and scales.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK?

Prioritising the never ending to do list whilst remaining flexible enough to deal with the unexpected. Adaptability is probably one of the most important attributes of a modern business.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE?

There is no excuse for poor customer service – we should expect exceptional care when we pay for a product or service – and accept nothing less.

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?

My in-laws are very talented musicians and entertainers overall. I am going to surprise them soon and steal their thunder #watchthisspace.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/AMBITIONS?

We are successfully growing the Free’ist brand across Ireland and are focused on making it a household name in the UK. Beyond this, we have ambitious plans to secure presence for Free’ist in international markets, having recently exhibited at ISM in Germany and Gulfood, Dubai.

WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

Elon Musk ~ If you live in Elon Musk’s world of endless possibilities and believe in something with all your heart, anything is possible.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?

It is hard to beat Donegal. That part of the world is the perfect escape, at any time of year.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?

Northern Ireland is home to world-class food and fantastic local restaurants that are keen to showcase it. I am a big fan of Kettyle Irish Foods – their beef and lamb in particular. It was great to see them being enjoyed at Gulfood recently.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?

My wife and I have four children and I love nothing more than spending time with them – be that helping with homework or big family gatherings – that’s really what life is all about.

 

 

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