Michael Beard started his career in the food industry by carrying 32kg bags of flour up a ladder to pour them into batter mixes in his father’s factory in Oxfordshire. Many years later in 2000, he led a £40m management buy-in of the Rayner Food Group, which now makes everything from food colourings to organic chutney.
Beard has been given three years by his venture-capital investors to improve the group’s performance by focusing on its fastest-growing division, which makes vegetarian chilled foods such as pate, tofu and sausages. Profits of the London company have risen 30% a year from £2.4m in 1997 to £5.3m in 2000, when it had 342 workers.
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