New chairman and managing director for Abergavenny Fine Food Co

Experienced CEOs and growth strategists Andrew Lord and Jason Rees have joined the board of The Abergavenny Fine Food Company, in the latest move in the food manufacturer and exporter’s continued drive for expansion.

Mr Lord, previously MD of Sunjuice, was appointed chairman in March, while Jason Rees recently came into post as managing director, when the business’ MD of 15 years Melanie Bowman stepped down from the role.

Mr Rees has a military background, reaching the senior rank of Major and has more recently held senior roles at Orange UK, EE and FarePilot.

They both join the management board with finance director Tarryn Brownlee, operations director Paul Mortimer and Bryson Craske, who is commercial director.

Melanie, who has been key in her family’s company for the last 35 years, has made the decision to take a back seat, executive role. Under Melanie’s guidance, the business has grown and now has a turnover of more than £30m, including £6.01m export (20 per cent), and a team of 195 full time staff, swelling to 240 at peak production times.

The company started when Melanie and Bryson’s parents moved to the Welsh countryside in 1981. Pam asked Tony to buy her a cow, as the farm was so remote and it was difficult to get to the shops for milk. He couldn’t find one but brought back a goat and she learnt to make goat’s milk. The business expanded to such an extent that they moved to a Welsh Development Agency funded purpose-built food unit in 1989 and then a much larger premises in Blaenavon in 2007.

In July 2015, a devastating blaze tore through these facilities and six fire crews and 40 firemen attended to fight the fire for four hours. While all future production was at risk, staff were moved to the company’s creamery in Abergavenny, while the main £10m facility was rebuilt within 26 weeks and officially opened by the Prince of Wales the following year.

Like all businesses, The Abergavenny Fine Food Company has faced challenges presented by Covid-19. Staff were furloughed at the beginning of lockdown, when the factory was running at 50 per cent output, but is now back to full production capacity, with a broad portfolio of emerging products including gluten free and vegan.

South Wales Argus | Business