Hufton, Neil (5 of 5). Food: From Source to Salespoint
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Manufacturers; Product developers
Interviewee's home, Northampton
Hufton, Neil, 1947- (speaker, male)
Michael, Cos (speaker, female)
Part 5: NH describes duties as Operations Member of BBF’s Edible Fats Business Group [EFBG]. Outlines activities of BBF’s European Sourcing Group; describes mid 1990s discussions about rationalisation of European factories. Mentions meetings at European factories. Outlines negotiating with British Rail over Channel Tunnel Rail Link viaduct. [5:40] Describes lack of contact with Purfleet community. [7:18] Details becoming UK Factory of the Year; outlines reasons for entering. Describes 6 month competition process; Pur chosen as finalist. Mentions various categories; finals awarded over lunch at the Savoy. Describes winning Best Process Factory award; describes winning Best UK Factory award. Describes celebrations; best afternoon of NH’s career. Describes impact on factory; justification of 10 years’ struggle. Describes taking entire site out for an evening; fantastic night out. Mentions hiring comedian, Joe Pasquale [JP]; son of Pur worker. [17:00] NH details Japanese concept of Total Production Manufacturing [TPM] TPM aims; zero tolerance of waste, progressive improvements, and spotless cleanliness. Advantage of spending a week cleaning every component of factory; workers gain in depth knowledge of equipment. Describes labour intensity of job; lines closed for cleaning. Describes operators learning to carry out repairs. Describes overcoming opposition; MT spent day cleaning machinery. Mentions gradual improvement of machinery. [25:10] NH describes growing interest in building workplace relationships. Describes working with the McLane Group [MGr]; outlines MGr’s methodology. Describes working extensively with MGr; NH became consultant after retirement. [29:35] Describes succeeding Andy Duncan [AD] as Head of EFBG; ran Pur concurrently. Describes workload; outlines tasks on EFBG. Describes concentrating on EFBG; outlines major issues. NH also on European EFBG; describes enjoying challenge of running businesses. [35:30] Describes leaving Pur, aged 52, in 1999. Limited CEO opportunities within Unilever; outlines career options. NH offered Technical Directorship of Australian operation; reasons why offer withdrawn. Describes becoming CEO of Arkady Craigmillar [ACM]; outlines history of ACM. ACM sold oils, fats and bakery products to industrial manufacturers; also produced ready made frozen bakery products. Mentions ACM buying bread improver business; ACM based in Bromborough; Unilever subsidiary. NH reported to Bert Ellman [BE], in Bakery Europe division. Describes ACM losing 1 million pounds per month; factory underutilised. [43:05] Describes working in office DC occupied 25 years previously. Describes capabilities of Unilever employees; mentions inheriting problems from predecessor. Outlines target to break even; sell more whilst costing less. Outlines contract to supply in-store bakery produce to Asda. [47:10] Describes rationalising workforce; mentions unions complying. [48:42] Describes building relationship with Asda head of in -store bakeries; similarly with Tesco. Mentions supplying Bakko. Outlines simplifying product range; beating competition on price and quality. Describes wonderful test bakery. Outlines work of Sales and Marketing departments; stresses simplicity of task. Describes building on small successes to raise morale. [54:30] Strategic reasons for Unilever selling European bakery business. Describes releasing news before sale; traumatic for staff. Describes BE managing sale; NH promoted ACM as asset to European business. Mentions travelling to European presentations. ACM sold to Dutch sugar business, CSM; describes CSM business capabilities. Describes providing security to ACM staff. [1:01:35] NH describes meeting Niall Fitzgerald [NF], Unilever CEO. Anecdote about Manchester United football tickets. Outlines conversation with NF; describes NF. Describes NG’s office. NH’s reputation known to NF; anecdote about operators showing Pur to NF. [1:08:14] NH describes becoming CEO of Diversey Lever UK [DLUK]; DL made cleaning chemicals and systems for industry. DLUK part of DL World Organisation, based in Amsterdam; DLUK based in Northampton. NH describes buying Northampton house; describes large house. [1:15:55] Outlines children’s career and families. [1:18:20] NH outlines year spent rationalising DLUK, before Unilever decided to sell entire DL Worldwide organisation to Johnson’s. Mentions spending 1 year as MD of Johnson-Diversey UK before taking early retirement from Unilever. [1:19:33] Describes becoming MD of Creavite, based at Colworth. Describes Creavite product; agar and milk solution, sold to food industry. Describes initial failure to sell product, until chilled dessert created, similar to Magnum ice-cream. Describes challenge of getting license from Unilever to sell Magnum dessert brand; outlines getting Bird’s Eye to produce dessert. Describes 2005 launch of Magnum Chilled Dessert company; outlines shared ownership with Unilever. Mentions selling through all major supermarkets; predicts 10 million pound business, created in 18 months, with agreement to sell to Unilever. NH mentions plans for retirement. Satisfaction at building company from scratch. [1:25:08] Mentions few regrets; NH enjoyed career. Describes luck in marriage and children; importance of tolerance to successful marriage. Describes social activities. Describes enjoyment of varied company through career; importance of variety.