Q&A with Tim Andrew, MD of Lisburn baking company
Question and Answer session with Tim Andrew, the managing director of Lisburn-based baking firm Andrew Ingredients, which is celebrating 70 years in business.
Q: How did your career bring you to your present post at Andrew Ingredients?
A: I joined the summer I left school, which was some time ago now, as a holiday relief store man for three weeks and I am still here to this day! I worked my way up through the business to become MD. Working my way up meant that I have experience of most of the roles within the business including deliveries, admin, sales and buying.
Q: Who are the three people to whom you owe your present success?
A: My dad, Bill Andrew. He gave me the opportunity to carry on and grow what he started. My wife, Mairead, who has given me total support in the background and now as a fellow director of Andrew Ingredients. The late Stewart Macphie, who owned Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd, our main supplier based in Scotland. He was such a great innovator within the baking industry and was a fantastic support to me.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing your business?
A: We face challenges that are common across most businesses but we also face a range of challenges around diet and lifestyle. I would say we have five main challenges - getting paid on time, promotion of the goodness of bread, Government guidelines regarding the reduction in our diets of salt, sugar and fat, issues relating to sustainable palm oil, and competition.
Q: Are succession issues a worry in a family-run business?
A: Over the years this has been a concern, but we have addressed this issue and we now have a succession plan in place.
Q: What do you hope to achieve from your new £750k investment into the business?
A: Since we moved to our new premises in 2011, overall business has grown by an impressive 33% across Ireland and we are gearing up to continue growth into 2015 with extended warehouse facilities and a new test bakery. The warehouse will include four new loading bays and a refrigeration unit, whilst the test bakery will enhance our ability to support customers with product development and test products. Having increased our staff by four over the last 12 months, we now feel ideally placed to continue our strategy for growth.
Q: Is export a big part of your business?
A: Yes, we sell into the Republic, which now accounts for over one third of our sales.
Q: Is there enough support out there for exporters?
A: We have tended to do things our own way and did not seek help from government agencies, when we expanded into Republic. However, we plan to work with Invest NI in 2015 during our 70th anniversary year. On another note we have found our bank, the Ulster Bank very supportive of our recent move and expansion plans.
Q: Has your business been hit by the recession?
A: Whilst this recession has been longer than any of the previous ones I have experienced, we are fortunate that people do continue to eat bakery products. We supply ingredients for the basics such as bread and buns as well as luxury products. Research in our industry has shown that cakes and buns are seen as being a vital part of a special occasion or taken as a treat.
Q: Have you benefited from the growing popularity of baking, thanks to programmes like the Great British Bake-Off?
A: Anything that promotes baking and attracts consumers is of great benefit. Also, these programmes help to attract young people into the industry. Recent innovative events such as Craft Baker's Week in Great Britain and Bread Week in Ireland are also very helpful in promoting the industry.
Q: Masterchef or Great British Bake-off?
Q: Buns or bananas?
A: Buns, of course!
Q: Christmas or New Year's Eve?
Q: Father Ted or Mrs Brown's Boys?
A: Mrs Brown's Boys