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An interview with George Blyth, Head of Marketing at Charlie Bigham’s
We managed to catch up with George Blyth, Head of Marketing at our favourite, luxury ready-meal company, Charlie Bigham’s. George made the move from large corporate player to boutique SME and, below, he tells us all about his motivations behind that move and why he has never looked back!
1) You made the jump from blue-chip (Mars) to entrepreneurial business (Charlie Bigham’s), what prompted you to make this move?
Big companies like Mars are fantastic places to start your career and learn the fundamental do’s and don’ts of business. However after 2.5 years, it was clear to me that I wanted to work somewhere faster-paced where I could make a much bigger impact. After a chance phone call from a headhunter I went in and met Charlie and the team and instantly knew I wanted to be involved. The passion and pride shown by everyone I met was incredible and really infectious and, being a keen home cook, the chance to work in a place where a 1/3rd of the office is a kitchen was too good to be true!
2) Why do you prefer working in a start-up/ growth stage environment?
At bigger companies most of the time you are battling it out with another big brand over points of share and growth of 5% is considered brilliant. In a younger business you get to genuinely re shape the market and grow by 100%. At Bigham’s we’ve grown from £4m to £25m in the 5 years since I’ve been here and we are still going strong. The growth is exciting as it means there are constant new challenges, which means you have to develop quicker to keep up! Another great advantage of smaller business is that you are really close to the realities of running a business, controlling overheads, managing Gross margin etc.
3) Why do you think Bigham’s is particularly special?
Bigham’s is special because we are a hard-working, bright bunch of people growing a lovely brand in the own-label dominated market of ready meals. Everyone at Bigham’s is there because they want to make our food even better and make Bigham’s an incredible place to work. We are a passionate and proud bunch and don’t rest on our laurels. Our ultimate goal is to make the tastiest food and, by doing this, we will grow the business as more people discover our tasty ready meals.
4) Why is Marketing at Bigham’s so interesting in your view?
The great thing at Bigham’s is we are rigorous in our marketing approach and we get to do everything….Right from the insight for a new range, to the wooden packaging, to the branding, to the advert, to launch. In bigger companies you are unlikely to be able to do all these elements as often they are decided at a European or Global level.
5) There is a hugely exciting opening for a Marketing Executive to join your team currently, what are the five most important things that you are looking for in your new recruit?
Passion, pride, intelligence, ambition & prepared to take risks.
A Lovework trip to Naked Wines’ annual tasting event and a chance to see our placed candidates in action!
Here at Lovework, we’re huge fans of Naked Wines …and not just because they sell mouth-wateringly delicious wines for a fraction of the price you would normally expect to pay (although this is a major selling point!), but because Naked Wines share our commitment to, and passion for, supporting small, entrepreneurial businesses.
Lovework is on a mission to help fledgling start-ups source top talent for their businesses. We help them overcome the barrier of having small marketing and recruitment budgets, by connecting them to exceptional people who will help drive their businesses’ continued success. With similar fire in their bellies, Naked Wines invest in some of the most talented winemakers in the world helping them out of a vicious cycle where money goes on selling and marketing, rather than on producing great wines. With their angel backing, Naked Wines have given these talented wine makers the chance to realise their true potential and, of course, we get to enjoy the sumptuous outcome of that.
And so, we were hugely excited by the prospect of attending Naked Wines’ annual wine tasting event in London this weekend, sampling delicious wines and meeting the wine-makers in person. The event certainly did not disappoint. We were joined by hundreds of avid Naked Wines fans, all eager to try the latest vintages and to hear the stories behind the wines we love so much.
Our first meeting was with Benjamin Darnault , whose latest “La Senche”, we were enormously excited to try. (It exceeded expectations and a case was promptly ordered). The story behind this fantastic wine, however, was even more amazing. 5 years ago, Benjamin, left a successful career in Australia to resettle his young family in his native France, but they were not prepared for the extent of the challenge that lay ahead.
He quickly realised the situation in the French industry wasn’t at all what he’d witnessed in Australia. He panicked. He’d brought his family all the way back across the world and it didn’t look promising. He knew he could make good wines – his dream was to have his own label, making wines from the great, untapped potential of the Languedoc terroir in France. He knew these wines could be very good. Using the knowledge he picked up in Australia, Burgundy, Bordeaux and South Africa, he could develop this incredible terroir and fruit – elements that had been neglected by the local growers for years – and make great wine.But he couldn’t get anyone else to share his vision.
Finally, and as somewhat of a last resort, he pitched his idea and sent samples to Naked. He was amazed to get an email back immediately …they loved his wines and they were in business! Boy are we glad about that!
Next, we met Katie Jones, whose Fitou is another Lovework favourite. Katie’s entire vintage of award winning wine was destroyed last year by vandals, but with Naked Wines’ support she has come back fighting and her business has been transformed. 2,500 angels rallied together to get her back on her feet – raising over £200k in one afternoon. And we can tell you, her latest vintage is a triumph.
We were also delighted to meet award winning sommelier turned award winning wine maker, Franck Massard, whose invitation to join him at his organic Spanish vineyard will certainly be taken up. Franck was Naked Wines’ wine maker of the year last year and his new vintage is pretty special too!
Finally, it gave us great pride to see three of Lovework’s candidates in action in their new roles at Naked Wines. Their love and passion for their roles was evident. We even managed to pap a couple of photos of them with the wine makers:Posted on: June 22nd, 2014