Managing Director

£100,000 plus exec package, car, benefits & pension

My client is a market leading bakery/food manufacturing and retail business. Established a century ago, this well-established and highly regarded business has been under the same family ownership since inception.

Quality has been at the forefront of the business’s model throughout their impressive history, both in product quality and quality of overall service offering. Not only do they manufacturer all their own products, their vertically integrated model sees them selling exclusively through their network of retail outlets, giving them unparalleled control over the product, and customer journey.

But vertical integration is not their only unique selling point. Their financial performance is well above average for this type of business. This has been achieved by controlled expansion of their product range and retail estate, intelligent management of gross margin and a philosophy of rigorous cost control. This position is underpinned by a very strong Balance Sheet with significant cash reserves and some freehold properties.

This outstanding financial position has allowed them to repeatedly invest and improve all aspects of the business, keeping them at the forefront of their market, plus ensuring they maintain a technological advantage whilst not losing the quality benefit of a still ‘human’ rich production facility.

This impressive business is performing very well, but still possesses the desire to continually improve and further develop the business, it’s customer profile, service and product offerings; through evolution, not revolution. Their market is rich with opportunities and their position within the market leaves them ideally placed to take advantage.

The senior management team have recently undertaken a strategic review of all parts of the business and are now in the early stages of executing the agreed strategic initiatives. The recruitment of the role is a key outcome of that strategic review.

The present Managing Director, and 3rd Generation family member, has been hugely successful in leading the business. It is now planned that they will continue to head up the Board as Executive Chairman, but with the appointee taking total control of the day-to-day running of the business and become the Executive Chairman’s sole report.

The appointee will have full executive responsibility and take a high degree of autonomy in the overall running and leadership of the business. They will be tasked with taking full responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the business, and for delivering the agreed financial and strategic objectives. They will furthermore be tasked with taking an influential lead in designing and defining strategic objectives.

As executive responsible for the running of all aspects of this vertically integrated business, Sales, Human Resource, Finance and Operations. They will assume a critical leadership role across the entire business and it’s 700+ strong workforce. This is not an ivory tower appointment! It is expected that whilst the appointee will have a key role in leading and directing the business, they human interaction and appreciation is of critical importance, as is the true day-to-day influence over the business. It would be expected that the appointee will be a daily sight on the production floor, and within the retail estate.

Beyond the human leadership elements of the business, the success candidate will take full operation control of the business from procurement of raw materials, manufacturing and logistics to retailing the product range to consumers.

Following the strategic review, there is huge appetite for reviewing and developing all aspects of the business from manufacturing and sourcing initiatives, an examination of the overall consumer offer plus a thorough review of the existing and potential development of the retail estate. The appointee will have the opportunity to re-evaluate this strategy with a view to either confirming or making amendments where appropriate, before embarking on the design and delivery of the strategic objectives. They will be key to developing the onward strategic development, and direction of the business.

The successful candidate will also be expected to review his/her senior team and their respective roles with a view to forming the most appropriate team to take the business forward.

Duties and responsibilities

Customers – Internal & External

  • To determine, in conjunction with the Executive Chairman and Board, the best strategy to develop profitable sales and maximise the benefits of the product portfolio, brand and service
  • To lead, co-ordinate and ensure full communication across the production facility; drive production efficiency improvements through a culture of engaged continuous improvement
  • To develop, foster and maintain close, mutually beneficial working relationships across all departments
  • Drive a culture of customer excellence, continually challenging and improving the customer experience and product offering including new markets, new product ranges/offerings and new locations


  • To plan and prepare sales forecasts and budgets and ensure that sales profitability, volume and budget objectives are achieved
  • Ensure that all management information is produced and distributed within the stated deadlines
  • Proactively work towards the achievement of the company overall budgets and forecasts
  • To ensure that limits of authority and sign off levels are adhered to

 Business Processes & Safety

  • Ensure all policies and procedures are adhered to and to ensure that controls are effective
  • Undertake regular reviews across the business to improve customer service, commercial performance and operational/manufacturing productivity

Specific Performance Deliverables and KPIs

  • The sales and profit performance of the Company
  • Accuracy of budgets and forecasts
  • Customer satisfaction performance
  • Implementation of cost reduction solutions where appropriate
  • Improvement and delivery of management information
  • Develop the product offering through new initiatives (Food-to-go/Breakfasts/Meal Deals) and new location, both traditional and alternative
  • Work with the Executive Chairman to assess M&A prospects as required

Candidate profile and chemistry fit is critical for this pivotal role within such a well-established, family business; Quality of background is non-negotiable. This is a business that recruits on attitude; trains on skill. Working within a fast-paced, innovative yet traditional, entrepreneurial environment, attitude is as important as experience. The person is everything. The appointee will set the tone, energy and culture for the business, internally and externally….and become the greatest influence in designing its success. The gravity of success is all about having the right attitude, underpinned with demonstrable experience. The successful appointee will want to get into their white coat and see flour on the their shoes from day one.

The successful candidate will be a high achieving, consumer-facing, Food manufacturing (or retail) Manager/Director, with a strong background in production, product and operational leadership. They will have demonstrable success at leading a production facility, preferably within fresh food/bakery products, and possess exposure to the procurement of bakery/production skills and equipment sourcing. They will furthermore have a highly commercial, business leadership focus, aligned to demonstrable general management and operational capability.

The appointee will have recent leadership experience with a family or entrepreneurial business, most likely a small to medium sized enterprise. An affinity with, and understanding of, the challenges of smaller, family owned businesses will be essential.

General Management experience should include control over all the key functions including manufacturing, logistics, human resources, finance, sales and marketing.

While not necessarily from a commercial sales and marketing background, the candidate must be able to demonstrate a high level of commercial acuity and a track record of delivering financial and strategic goals.

They will be ready to step up to lead this exciting business.

The business is very clear that success in their market place relies very heavily on their ability to deliver on a daily basis, fresh, high quality food products manufactured in its bakery. The appointee will ultimately be responsible for maintaining and improving this competitive advantage.

While a manufacturing specialist background is not essential, high quality fresh product will be critical to the continued success of the business. To this end, the successful candidate will need to ensure the business employs and retains the specialist skills that will provide this continuity.

The business started trading 100 years ago and during that time it has continued to grow both top and bottom line by operating, in many ways, like a small/mid size family business. Whilst still an accessible family business, it recognises that at approaching £25m turnover, the business is now a significant enterprise and, as such, to compete in their increasingly competitive marketplace, it will be important to “professionalise” the business in order to prepare it for the future. It will be the responsibility of the appointee to recognise this need and to introduce management methods/processes/systems to achieve this evolution while, at the same time, not losing the important family business ethos that has proved so successful to date.

The successful candidate will have significant entrepreneurial ability and desire, and be hugely excited by this well established, but high paced successful environment, thick with USPs and opportunities.

Person Specification

  • Recent experience of a food manufacturing, preferably bakery business, with a prime focus on product quality.
  • Leadership exposure with an SME/entrepreneurial business.
  • Production experience within a fresh food, ideally bakery environment, and a passion for production excellence and continuous improvement.
  • Experience of selling ‘value added’ manufactured products.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead process changes.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills, both internally and externally and appreciation of cultural requirements.
  • Ability to tailor communications to the appropriate audience.

This is a career defining, fantastic opportunity for an experienced, operationally aware General Management professional, with exposure to the consumer Food sector, to join a vertically integrated family business, quickly become an intrinsic part of the business, before leading with empathy and adding significant value to an already high-performing market leader.

To apply, please contact us by email at

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Gary Chaplin