November Meeting – Tim Sutton

The role of a non-executive director was outlined to members of Bingham Business Club at their last meeting by Tim Sutton, managing director of Fresh Growth Solutions. Tim Sutton began by joking that NEDs had been likened to a bidet. “They are expensive, no-one knows what they do, and people are unsure how to use them,” he said.

Tim has more than 35 years’ experience in the fresh food industry, including being managing director of Geest Fresh Food, supplying major retailers including Waitrose and Morrisons. Geest was later acquired by Bakkavor. “You will all have their products at home in your fridge,” he said.

After 20 years at Geest, he took a complete change of direction, going into fish farming. The company went bust and had to be re-financed twice. “That’s when I really learned about business,” Tim said. The company went on to sell its fish products to Harrods.

Tim now works as a non-executive director and business coach, advising many companies on how to improve their performance. Tim is a highly-focused NED, advisor and personal coach, experienced in plc, family-owned and SME high growth businesses. He has extensive contacts in the business support sector, retail and fresh food industry. He said it was vital, firstly, as a NED, to understand your sector. A good NED had the highest ethical standards, supported and challenged the leadership team, questioned intelligently, listened sensitively, gained the trust and
respect of board members, showed curiosity and courage. The role then primarily involved remaining independent, being a critical friend, offering wise counsel, and both challenging and supporting a company’s leadership team.

He said it could be difficult getting a first NED role, but further position were easier to obtain, often through business-to- business referrals.

Tim was joined by Mark Williams, whose bakery products company had benefited from his help. From being a week away from closure, it has recently won a major contract to supply a nationwide pub chain.

The business club meeting was followed by the annual meeting, when chairman Jonathan Hammond reported that the average attendance at the monthly club meetings since 2016 had been 30.

He thanked speaker finder Helen Wells for her work in securing an eclectic mix of speakers, Debra Petersen for helping the meetings to run smoothly on the day, and treasurer Samantha White for producing the balance sheet, which showed the club to be £2,409.46 in credit.

As the group is not-for- profit, the committee is to look at once again inviting applications from local organisations and charities for grants from the club’s surplus funds.

Jonathan was re-elected chairman, Samantha was re-elected treasurer, and it was agreed that Jo Gretton could be co-opted to the committee. Members were asked to make suggestions for speakers for future meetings.

The next meeting is the Christmas lunch on December 14 at The White Lion in Bingham.


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