Jacqui joined CNG (Contract Natural Gas) in January 1998 when it had a turnover of £2m, became the interim CEO in 2004, the CEO in 2006 and since then has taken CNG to a current turnover of £240m with 104 staff and a 4% share of the commercial gas supply market. The company has grown by 20% pa and is the 8th biggest commercial supplier of gas meters in the country. In 2011 Jacqui led a management buyout from the family of the founder, the last stage of which was completed early in 2013. Supplying throughout the UK, CNG’s aim is to be the business gas supplier of choice - the real alternative to the BIG 6.
James began and developed his management skills as ASDA’s youngest ever General Manager, when he was given overall responsibility for launching and operating their newest and largest distribution depot; employing 1,200 staff and servicing the ASDA network across the North West. James joined Harrogate Spring Water in 2006 with the turnover of £4m and was able to implement improvements across the business from production to logistics. James became Managing Director in 2011 and has transformed the business over recent times following major expansion in production capacity, taking sales from £4 million in 2006, to a forecasted turnover of over £14 million by the end of March 2016. This year the business was named in The Grocer’s Fast 50, as one of the fastest growing private food and drink companies in the UK. One of James’ proudest achievements has been the launch of ‘Thirsty Planet’ spring water. A dedicated charity brand, all bottles sold include a guaranteed donation to Pump Aid. So far, Thirsty Planet has contributed more than £1.8 million, providing over 1,350,000 people with clean, safe drinking water across rural sub-Saharan Africa.
James joined Richmond Ice Cream in 1987 as CEO when it had 5 employees and sales of £250,000. By 2014 it had sales approaching £1 billion and 5,000 employees. During this period R&R Ice Creams grew both organically and made several acquisitions. In 1998 it acquired the ice lolly business of Treats plc and in subsequent years acquired the ice cream divisions of Allied Foods and of Nestle, a leading German ice cream manufacturer, the leading producer of premium Cornish ice cream, France's 3rd largest ice cream manufacturer, Italy's largest own label ice cream manufacturer and a long established Australian company with its portfolio of household name ice creams. In the 3 years between 2006 and 2009 R&R increased profits by 210% pa. During James' period as CEO, R&R has been successively owned by private individuals, listed on the AIM market and by two private equity houses in succession. In 2013 James stood down as CEO and became Executive Chairman and in the same year James was awarded an OBE and named E&Y UK Entrepreneur of the Year. James is also Chairman of Animal Care Group PLC and Burton's Biscuits Co.
A graduate of Columbia Business School, James spent his early career with major international companies such as EMI. Cunard and Trusthouse Forte (THF). In 1983 he co-founded First Leisure Corporation PLC, which was an MBO from THF, and he became Joint MD responsible for 90 operating sites such as Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens, leisure centres, discotheques and sports clubs. In 1988 he co-founded Northern Leisure plc and raised £36m in equity finance before establishing a group of 40 sites including bowling alleys and residential and care homes. In 1993 he joined City Centre Restaurants plc as CEO. While at City Centre he had the idea of establishing a restaurant chain providing both Italian and American food and so Frankie and Benny's was born. James was also responsible for the direction and growth of other restaurant brands including Cafe Uno, Garfunkels, Chiquitos and Deep Pan Pizza and increased sales from £89m to £205m achieving a 25% return on capital employed. James is now a non-exec Director of Burgess Group plc a Yorkshire based group with interests in pet foods and property.
John started life in the north of Scotland as a stonemason and builder before being one of the last to be called up for national service in the RAF. After national service he signed on for 12 years and was mainly involved in aviation medicine. The RAF gave him the confidence and experience that have served him well since. After leaving the RAF he started as a builder in Yorkshire and after several years growing the business, he created a product needed by some stonemasons who were having difficulty with some old and tired stones.The business which is now the Wetherby Group was borne. The company manufactures performance building products which this year will have an approx retail sales value of £25m. To add to his remarkable achievements John learnt to fly at 75
John Graham is the joint founder of GO Outdoors, the UK’s largest specialist retailer of camping equipment, tents, outdoor clothing and footwear. Since its establishment in 1998, the company has grown to 50 outlets across the UK with over 2,000 employees. How has John and his team done this? A major part of the answer is its people. John Graham is unique and he has a unique approach to finding and rewarding people who fit the GO Outdoors ethos. Always at his happiest in the mountains, John is a keen climber and enjoys spending his free time with his family in the outdoors.
Prior to buying Volvox with LDC in 2005, John was CEO of Ring PLC a £90m turnover distributor of lighting and automotive products. Volvox Group engages in designing, manufacturing, and distributing products to transport industries, workshops, leisure, and the industrial consumables market. John has grown the company from modest beginnings to a turnover of over £50m and repaid the loans for the purchase of the business. Volvox Group is also involved in delivering mains power in vehicles from the 12v battery to developing eco-friendly wind-up torches. John was awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Years Honours List for services as Chairman of Hollybank Trust.
After training in the business consultancy practice at Arthur Andersen, John worked for several years in technology venture capital before joining IP Group Plc which had, and still has, a contract to commercialise the IP coming out of Leeds University. Tracsis was set up in 2004 to commercialise software which reduces costs and improves the efficiency of complicated transport networks. John was its first and only employee and today Tracsis now employs over 300 staff with turnover in excess £25m and profits of close to £6m. John has been the CEO of Tracsis from the start and has taken it through its very early stages, an IPO in November 2007, seven acquisitions, and to its current market capitalisation of approx £115m.
After graduating in 1987 with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, John started a full time job in sales at Thorn. Following that, experience in wholesaling and then electronics manufacturing at Arlen and Advanced Lighting gave him the tools to start his own business. Harvard Engineering, founded in 1993 had been a long term ambition for John. Building on his experience and spotting a gap in the market for compact electronics for 2D lamps, John started production of a design based on his University project in his kitchen. Soon after, a factory was established in Leeds, paving the way for the Harvard Engineering of today. Harvard Engineering is a world leader in the design, development and manufacturing of electronic HID ballasts, LED drivers and control products for the lighting industry. From a standing start Harvard has built its turnover to £36 million in 20 years and have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011. In 2013 a venture capital company ECI took a substantial sake in Harvard and in 2015 John left the business.
John qualified as a Chartered Accountant before joining Abbeycrest Plc shortly after it was floated on the junior market of the London Stock Exchange in 1985. John spent 15 years at Abbeycrest which was a metal jewellery business with a manufacturing plant in Thailand before moving to Town Centre Securities plc which is a property investment and development business. He joined Henry Boot plc in 2006 as finance director and was promoted to ceo with effect from 1st January 2016. Henry Boot has 3 divisions, Hallam Land which obtains planning permission for residential developments, the Commercial Development arm which develops brownfield sites for commercial use and the Construction division which includes Decent Homes operating around the M1 and M62, Plant Hire mainly down the M1 and Road Link which operates the A69 between Newcastle and Carlisle. In the year to 31st December 2014 Henry Boot PLC turned over approx £147m.
Jonathan is Chairman of Elmwood, a global brand consultancy with studios in Leeds, London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Melbourne, working with some of the worlds biggest brands. It holds the number one spot for effectiveness having won more DBA Design Effectiveness Awards than any other consultancy ever. In the last 5 years alone, Elmwood has also received well over 100 national and international design awards for creativity.
Is a pioneer of recycling in the UK and former Chief Executive of Straight plc. Jonathan has grown the company from a one man operation into the UK's leading supplier of kerbside recycling containers with an annual turnover of £30M.Whilst volunteering at a Leeds recycling charity Jonathan found a taste for the industry. He began working in the container business, initially as a consultant to the McKechie Group plc, before establishing his own company in 1993 supplying container solutions for separated waste. Following 10 years of sustained growth Straight joined the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market with a view to fuelling further growth. Straight plc has supplied more than 25 million kerbside boxes, baskets and cadies to local authorities across the UK and has rapidly growing international operations. The company made two acquisitions that changed its business model, allowing it to manufacture almost two thirds of its products and reduce its reliance on outsourced manufacture. In 2014 an offer was received for Straight plc and Jonathan sold his shares and left the company. Jonathan is now pursuing new business interests.
Jonathan qualified as a chartered accountant at one of the big 4 accountancy practices before joining the family firm Thornton & Ross in Huddersfield in 1983 when the company had sales of £16m. In 1990 his father retired and Jonathan became CEO and subsequently Executive Chairman until the business was sold in in 2013. During this period the business grew to sales of £70m from a combination of consistent organic growth of 5% pa and the acquisition of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines. Prior to its sale Thornton & Ross was the largest independent OTC pharmaceutical manufacturer in the UK and exported to over 80 countries worldwide. In addition to owning many well known brands such as Covonia and Setlers as well as the UK's leading disinfectant Zoflora, Thornton & Ross developed a new head lice product from scratch which in 4 years achieved sales of £15m.
A self-confessed ‘calculated risk taker’, Jonathan graduated from Newcastle Business School and sold coal in the family’s business run by his father in 1986, just two years after the miners’ strike. Taking over as MD in 2000, he lead the family buy out FAMBO in 2004 in a textbook example of successful succession planning. Blazing an acquisition trail which included seven deals across 2003-2005 alone, his diverse companies in the Bayford Group span property, oil distribution, luxury holiday homes in Scotland and the high profile BE Fuelcards and The Right Fuelcard Company. In 2014 Jonathan spearheaded a ground breaking £6m multi-phase restoration of the Grade II-listed Bowcliffe Hall Estate which pays tribute to unsung Yorkshire aviation hero Robert Blackburn who hosted guests including aircraft pioneer Amy Johnson and Winston Churchill. The centrepiece of the multi award-winning scheme is the Blackburn Wing comprising a 2,060 sq. ft treehouse conference centre and event venue built in the shape of an airplane wing. The project has also converted redundant space - including a cricket pavilion that once housed Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War - into offices and includes a spectacular private members club, the Bowcliffe Drivers’ Club, whose glamorous and sumptuous surroundings pay homage to the 1920’s and the so called Golden age of motoring.
Judith Donovan CBE founded her own marketing agency in 1982 after nine years as a graduate employee in marketing in both London and Yorkshire. She was one of the first female entrepreneurs in Yorkshire and was recognised as such with awards for ‘Yorkshire Business Woman of the Year’ and ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’; her business was twice featured in the Independent's ‘100 Fastest Growing Companies’. In addition she chaired the Bradford Training and Enterprise Council, was the first ever female president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce and appeared on the panel of BBC's ‘Question Time’ twice. In 2000 she sold JDA (£12.5 million t/o, 50 staff) to her managers and embarked a non–executive career, primarily in the Public and Third sectors, and currently is, amongst others, Chair at Eden Project Ltd and at Royal Mail’s Strategic Mailing Partnership. She has been a Millennium Commissioner, a Director of HSE and BIG Lottery Fund, Chair of Yorkshire Tourist Board and Vice Chair of Postwatch. She is an expert on and enthusiast for Direct Marketing and an accomplished public speaker on business issues.
Julian founded Propaganda in 1993 growing it to be one of the most respected and successful marketing agencies in the UK. Julian maintains a major shareholding of the business and the position of executive chairman. Julian lists being part of the board of hair and beauty brand ghd, in which he took a central role in developing to be one of the UK’s fastest growing private companies in 2005, as one of his greatest achievements. He has also held non-executive positions at FMG and at Seabrook crisps, where he played a vital role in reforming the management team. He is also intensely proud of his creation, illamasqua, a global cosmetics brand, which was launched in 2008 at Selfridges, Oxford Street – the number one door in the world. Over the past two decades, Julian has been proud to receive a number of prestigious awards, recognising his successes and wider contribution to business. These have included Insider’s Entrepreneur of the Year and The Drum’s Marketing Services Head of the Year.
Until the business was sold in 2016, Julie Kenny was chairman and chief executive of awarding winning Pyronix Ltd which she founded in 1986. Based in Rotherham, Pyronix manufactures an extensive range of electronic security equipment for intruder alarms. Right from the start, there was keen focus on innovation and quality that enabled the company to obtain an initial toehold in the market place. The company now exports more than 50% of its annual turnover to 65 countries around the world. Julie is also Commissioner with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, and Chairman and Director of the British Security Industry Association and sits on numerous boards and committees.