In 1990, an industry acquaintance approached Neil Watson, a salesman for an importer of frozen poultry, and offered to set him up in his own business processing and supplying pork and poultry to supermarkets. Delighted, Watson brought in his brother Derek. The investor took an equity stake, which the brothers later bought back. Today Wiltshire-based New Forest Foods boasts sales of £18m. Chairman, Neil Watson, attributes his success to importing rather than manufacturing, which has enabled the company to stay lean and keep up with changing customer demands. Cash instead has been invested in technology to more carefully monitor food temperature, check weights, and trace imports back to the chicken that laid the egg. Recently, however, the company built a small processing plant to handle last minute order changes. Making the transition from managing commodities to managing people hasn’t been easy, admits Watson. “Business is simple,” he quips. “It’s the people who make it difficult.”
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