“Be brave.” CEO Q+A: Tim Andrew, Managing Director, Andrew Ingredients

Business, CEO Q&A | Wed 5 Jun | Author – Business & Finance
Tim Andrew, Managing Director, Andrew Ingredients

In our next CEO Q+A, Tim Andrew, Managing Director, Andrew Ingredients speaks to us about the challenges of Brexit, running a 70-year old business and trends in the baking industry.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at Andrew Ingredients which means meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Helping them grow their businesses in the longer term by offering product development, support and communicating emerging trends. Ensuring our team and our supply partners are focused on this is my key priority.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Unfortunately, it is Brexit, or really the uncertainty of Brexit! I know everyone is tired hearing about it, but a ‘No deal Brexit’ or a ‘Bad Brexit’ will have a negative impact on many all-Ireland companies like ourselves. We have, of course, planned for this scenario which has involved unnecessary energy and expense. Whatever the outcome, our business will survive and adapt, of that I am sure. We survived 30 years of the Troubles so we can survive anything!

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

We work hard to create an inclusive and friendly work environment. This comes not only from a good day to day working environment, along with profit sharing, but we also enjoy regular nights out to celebrate the company’s successes. One of the things that I’m most proud of is that people who join us rarely leave. Our average length of service is 16 years with almost one third of our staff having been with us for over 20 years.

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

The food industry is very fast paced and is greatly influenced by the emergence of new trends, in particular, the unjustified negative press that has surrounded bread. We should remember bread has been a staple of our diet for centuries and has a lot of nutritional value. It is important that as an industry we get that message out there to ensure consumers are given the correct information.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

New trends emerge constantly in the bakery industry, some more successful than others. The winning trends over the last few years have been on opposite ends of the scale with either a focus on indulgence or healthy eating. For example, doughnuts have been a massive trend over the past 3 years. This has been driven by bringing a creative, artistic twist to traditional doughnuts, combining them with dessert tastes (e.g. apple crumble, lemon meringue etc.) or well-loved confectionery products (Ferrero Rocher, Creme Eggs, Kinder, Nutella etc.). On the other side of the scale we’ve seen the emergence of health trends such as vegan, reduced sugar, free-from and high protein options.

For the industry to compete and grow in the long term it’s important that bakeries adapt and evolve with emerging trends whilst still retaining their traditional products and craft. We like to think we have a key role to play in this by highlighting trends and working closely with customers to develop products that address them.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I think there needs to be a real focus on bringing the next generation of bakers into the industry. This will require industry bodies, education authorities and government departments working together to ensure that the training programs are in place to allow a suitable entry point for young people to come into the industry and progress to become qualified and experienced baking professionals.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

There is a significant skills shortage in the bakery sector. Our customers often cite it as one of their biggest barriers to growth.

Unfortunately, we aren’t creating enough trained bakers to replace those that are retiring. Industry bodies are making a concerted effort to address this but more still needs to be done. The bakery industry offers fantastic career prospects for young people and it’s important for the future that we attract more of them into this trade.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

We entered the Republic of Ireland market around the time of the financial crash but thankfully the food and bakery industry tend not to be as badly affected during economic downturns, so we didn’t experience any significant impact and our bank remained supportive throughout.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

There was quite a significant inflationary impact on the industry in the months immediately after the referendum in June 2016 as a result of the weakening of sterling against the euro. This mainly impacted our northern customers where euro sourced ingredients became more expensive.

Brexit is likely to change the way we do business in the future but there is still a severe lack of clarity on this at present which makes it difficult to develop plans. I believe that ultimately business will be able to cope with whatever changes come down the line.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I’m proud and delighted that I have taken the business, which my father Bill started in 1945 and made it what it is today. I know he would be very proud! Of course this is only possible with the support of a good team. The business has grown from 6 to 33 employees today based across Ireland and Scotland. Once the uncertainty of Brexit is finished, we intend to recruit further staff to join our team.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Look after your staff.

Keep a very close eye on the numbers.

Keep reinvesting.

Always look for new opportunities.

Be brave.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We have been very busy over the last 12 months having run an exhibition at Croke Park with one of our biggest suppliers as well as a range of smaller events in our own test bakery and presentation facility. We’ve also been involved with Blás na hÉireann and Great Taste Awards as well running workshops with the bakery colleges in Dublin and Belfast.

I’m delighted that all the hard work has paid off with the Company achieving record sales in our last financial year.

Q. What’s next for your company?

We have a few exciting developments currently ongoing. We are just about to open a redevelopment of our test bakery facilities which will create a new collaborative space for us to work more closely with customers on new product development briefs. We are also introducing a new warehouse management system which will offer greater traceability and higher service levels to our customers.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Next year Andrew Ingredients will celebrate 75 years in business. Over that time, we have been constantly evolving and innovating what we do and how we do it. This year will be no different and we will continue to build on our long history of providing quality products and excellent service to our customers.

Always look for new opportunities.