Brexit, Climatearians and selling a business – video interview with food sector legend Chris Ormrod

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In this instalment of Business Leader Insight, we were honoured to talk to Chris Ormrod, Managing Director at The Flavourworks. Originally trained as an actor, Chris joined Mars as a salesman straight from university and subsequently worked for Haagen-Dazs, Ginsters, Findus and Virgin in a variety of sales and marketing roles.

When Chris joined The Flavourworks was supplying several of the UK’s big supermarkets, but it needed to develop new sales initiatives to really grow. Fast forward to today and the changes he has made have increased sales substantially. It is forecasting more than +10% sales growth over the next 12 months, from new initiatives launched this year. This will have the effect of almost doubling its underlying operating profit. In 2020 it launched 50% more new lines than the previous year.

Chris currently chairs Somerset Larder, a start-up business providing all of the catering for Hinkley Point C, and is Chair of Governors at a Somerset academy school and a Director of the Richard Huish Education Group. One of Chris’s wider ambitions is to make the food industry more attractive to school leavers and graduates, with a properly developed and supported career path. He has started an outreach programme into local schools with the first workshop scheduled for Shaftesbury School next month.

Here’s a breakdown of what we discussed in the interview:

  • Can you give us an overview of the business and what The Flavourworks does? (1:20)
  • Can you tell us about your career as a business leader and how it has evolved over the years? (2:24)
  • You were on the team that created Virgin Cola. What was it like working with Richard Branson? (5:04)
  • Can you talk more about the sale of your previous business Ministry of Cake in 2017? How did you find the process of selling and exiting the business? (6:00)
  • How is the pandemic impacting your business? (11:01)
  • Are you in a growth mindset, such as looking how to expand and invest in the business? (15:34)
  • How are you seeing food habits evolve? (18:31)
  • How have you found the last few years with Brexit looming and are you fully prepared as a business for a potential no-deal scenario? (22:37)
  • Regarding skills – is there a challenge with attracting local talent to work in the food and drink manufacturing sector, as opposed to hiring workers from Europe? (25:58)
  • What advice would you give to entrepreneurs operating in the food and drink space as it’s highly competitive? (29:34)
  • Final word from Chris (32:02)

Check our Virtual Events page for upcoming Business Leader Insight interviews.

Be sure to subscribe to the Business Leader YouTube channel for more interviews with some of the UK’s leading business figures.

A special thanks to Arbuthnot Latham for sponsoring this edition of Business Leader Insight.

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