Most people will have eaten produce from Freshtime without even realising it. Many supermarkets own-brand, freshly prepared and packaged vegetables or takeaway salads, including pasta salads, even deli fillers, are all cooked and packaged in Boston at the Freshtime factory. Since becoming the Managing Director for fresh produce supplier Freshtime UK, Mark Newton has taken on a new challenge and is pushing the company to new heights.
Two years under his watch, the company has already seen growth and introduced new products. With last year’s turnover at £50 million and expected to rise to £60 million next year, Mark’s strategy is paying off. The driver for the business has been about growth for some time, but since Mark joined in 2013, he has been a vital part in the expansion.
“We wanted to take the business to the next level,” Mark said. “We never really put a number to that but it was about taking Freshtime from where it was, which was very successful. It was a profitable growth business, but we wanted to expand it. So we started looking at new product areas, new customers.
This feature interview was first published in issue 55 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
“As you grow a business you need more people, you expand in terms of production capacity that you have available. That’s really what our strategy is, we just want to grow. We have to do it in a sustainable way, we’ve got to do it a way that ensures that everyday we are still supplying our customers 100% of the time in full. So we are doing it in a controlled way, but even so in the last two years it’s been quite meteoric.”
Over the last five years, around £12 million has been invested into the site with £2 million of that providing new machinery in the last year alone. The company has seen around 10 new senior level positions filled in the last two years and the whole site encompasses some 350 staff, with the majority working in the factory, making sure that everything is perfect.
“I think it’s fair to say that virtually every penny has gone into the factory. We don’t spend money on huge marble staircases and ivory towers, it’s all about developing the capabilities within the factory.”
Mark, 48, knew it was time for a change when he realised that his MD role at Florette UK had taken him away from doing what he loved – getting right in the middle of things and becoming part of the process.
“I had been at Florette for 12 and a half years and I started off as Commercial Director of the UK then became MD for the UK,” Mark said. “Then I spent the last two and half years as Group Chief Exec.
“In that kind of role you spend a lot of time in meetings, sat around a big boardroom table and not a lot of time doing all of the interesting stuff which throughout my career had always been about new products, new customers, new opportunities and actually growing things and developing things.
“It got to a point where five days a week I would just be sat in a meeting, looking at a spreadsheet or a report, which is all right once in a while, but it’s not much fun when it’s your be all and end all.”
With his passion for getting back into the heart of a business, Mark became Managing Director of Freshtime in Boston. He was given the challenge to expand the company and help it to make a name for itself that will be something that other companies in the industry would compare themselves against.
The full cover interview with Mark Newton is available to read in full here. For the latest dispatch of business news from across Lincolnshire delivered in your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the Lincolnshire Business magazine.