My life in the grocery trade

John Farrand, Managing Director, Guild of Fine Food

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

As an organisation we bring together those who make wonderful food and those selling wonderful food. We do that through the pages of our magazine, Fine Food Digest, through Great Taste and the World Cheese Awards, through our retail training programmes and through exhibitions and events.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE

Aside from endless holiday jobs on farms and in bars, I was involved in a logistics and distribution business in the capital after graduating from Wye College, University of London. I did nine years with this rapidly-growing enterprise and learnt a hell of a lot about running people and running a business. We sold Burnham International to a venture capital-backed management buy-in company: a year-long lesson in M&A for me.

WHEN DID YOU TAKE UP THIS POST?

I joined our family business in 2002 and took up the position of managing director in 2013.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

Without sounding flippant, I can be loading a van one day, running a tea judging day the next and then sitting on a panel discussion with the head of food and restaurants of Selfridges the day after. Essentially my role is to oversee the (too) many activities our small team takes on.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

Hanging out with people in our trade who absolutely respect the food they make and sell. Folk who understand food and drink, made with personality, with simple, quality ingredients are usually great company. I enjoy that.

Worst: people and businesses which jump on the speciality food and drink bandwagon for the wrong reasons. They think it’s cool and they think they can launch and sell a business for millions in a short period of time. They don’t share my values.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

There isn’t one.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

Delivering the World Cheese Awards in 2016 in what is the undisputed culinary capital of the world: San Sebastian. 250 judges and 3,000 cheeses from across the world in a bonkers 72 hours. So much love, business and celebration.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

It’s refreshing not to be chasing the corporate pound. For me it is so much more satisfying for local people to spend money in independently-owned, local shops. That pound spent does so much more good than anything that disappears into the City of London.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

By hanging out with or enjoying great food, wine and people. But that sounds like my day job.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW

I am a Grand Master of the little-known way of life-cum-martial art, Wing Chu.

 

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