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Nick Vermont receives British Potato Industry Award at BP 2015

Nick Vermont (CEO of McCain Foods GB) is the 2015 British Potato Industry Award winner

The winner of this year’s British Potato Industry Award not only has an illustrious and successful career in potatoes but has worked tirelessly on the industry’s behalf over many years.

Nick Vermont is the 2015 British Potato Industry Award winner and he was presented with the award by AHDB’s Chairman Peter Kendall at BP2015, GB’s foremost potato industry trade event, on Thursday 12 November 2015 in Harrogate.

AHDB Potatoes announced the winner during the ‘Next Generation’ reception on their stand at BP2015. Chair of AHDB Potatoes, Fiona Fell told the audience on the stand, “Not only is Nick such a deserving winner but it is particularly fitting that this award is presented to Nick in the company of some of our industry’s best and brightest ‘next generation’ here at BP today, demonstrating to them, just how far a career in the potato industry can take you.”

“Nick has given a huge amount of time and energy to drive value from the potato levy for the industry as a Board and Committee member. Involved since the inception of the Potato Marketing Board through British Potato Council days, and on to the newly-formed AHDB Potatoes, Nick’s experience, attention to detail and marketing expertise have proved invaluable to our industry over many years,” Fiona continued.

A career in potatoes offers many and varied opportunities to excel and Nick’s career in the potato industry has been a catalogue of successes. Now Chief Executive Officer of McCain GB, Nick joined McCain Foods in 1983 and held positions of increasing responsibility in the marketing departments of the GB and Canadian businesses, working across different product categories and channels. In 1991 he was promoted from Marketing Manager of McCain Foods GB to Managing Director of PAS (Grantham) Ltd, the McCain division responsible for UK Retailer Label, Potato Products. This was Nick’s first direct exposure to the potato industry and, as part of his learning and development in his new role, he quickly immersed himself into all-things-potato. It was at this time that Nick joined the Potato Processors Association representing PAS, also sitting on the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), (the group formed to advise government on the future of the Potato Marketing Scheme and its successor body). In 1998 he was appointed Managing Director of McCain Foods (GB) Ltd and in 2004 took on the role of Regional CEO. As well as his GB and Ireland responsibilities he has from time to time also looked after South Africa, Eastern Europe and overseen the establishment of the Global Commercial Function.

Outside of McCain, when the British Potato Council was formed in 1997, he represented the processing sector and went on to serve on no less than three BPC and two Potato Council Boards, finally standing down in 2012. For many years he was also Chairman of the Marketing Committee.

Nick told us “I had the great privilege to work with Harrison and Wallace McCain and in particular, Mac McCarthy, founder of McCain GB.”

“I learnt at an early age from these industry legends the inter-relationship between a thriving potato industry and McCain’s success, the need to work with everyone in the supply chain and - above all - to take the long-term view.”

Now leading the McCain GB business, Nick takes his position very seriously and has worked tirelessly to break down barriers in the supply chain in order to increase transparency and to build real and lasting partnerships. Over the years, in his encouragement for supply chains to work together for greater efficiency and prosperity, he has often pointed out that neither our neighbours nor our customers are the enemy.

Nick’s industry friends and colleagues told AHDB Potatoes, “Nick’s word is his bond; he makes things happen and only deals in straight talk. You will never be left unsure of what he means even if you don’t like what he has to say. Whilst not shy in expressing a view, Nick always listens and has spent a lot of time trying to understand other people’s issues and points of view.”

During his tenure, McCain GB has grown to be one of the country’s leading and most innovative consumer brands and one of the few food brands still operating in the food service sector. With a huge thirst for continuous improvement and growth he has ensured McCain continues its rich history of driving the company and the industry forward, whether it be in variety development, agronomy, contract structure, grower relations or communications.

Nevertheless, Nick is the first to recognize that “All of this is a huge team effort, not just from the immediate McCain team but from the whole McCain GB potato supply chain: from their newest recruit, to their many third generation growers and the myriad of specialist suppliers, be it haulage, storage, agronomy or fertilizers.”