Quote Unquote – Aoife Kenny, Head of Retail UK, Aryzta Food Solutions

GT – What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

aoife----2Working in the Bakery and Food to Go category is really exciting as there is always a new trend on the horizon that needs to be tasted! But more importantly it is a growing category. You are constantly challenging yourself on what else you can do to help retailers increase their category presence.

Whether it is new products, developing new flavours or improving the portability of bakery and food to go offers for busy on the go consumers. There is always something to do to keep ahead.

GT – Who’s inspired you most in your career?

I admire good leaders, and I have been very lucky to have worked with dynamic and visionary managers. I was part of the Walkers team, when it started to develop from a small regional brand based in Leicester to the huge national brand it is today. People like Martin Glenn and Tom Kuzio were certainly inspiring as leaders.

GT – If you were an item in a supermarket, what would you be?

Have to be careful here, everything I was thinking about could give the wrong impression so I have decided to be ‘Popping Candy’!

GT – If you had to do it all over again, what would you do different?

Hmmm… difficult. I can’t really say I would change too many things. I would like to have worked as a buyer for a bit, rather than always being the supplier but in general I have loved every role I’ve had.

GT – What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at work?

I was going to a meeting with a group, the train pulled up we all got on but my shoe clipped on the step, it did a triple somersault and landed on the railway line. We had to wait for four trains to pass before someone could get it. Meanwhile I stood like a flamingo at the side of the platform. As you can imagine I was the entertainment for the day!

GT – Who or what makes you laugh?

I’ve made a lot of good friends in this great industry over the years and I love a good night out with the gang at the various awards ceremonies, dinners or just catch ups when we are all running around in different directions! I am looking forward to doing a 500km charity cycling with 28 people from the retail industry in February this year to raise money for Mines Advisory Group. Donations gladly accepted via www.justgiving.com/teams/CRSL

GT – Do you have any hidden talents?

Sadly I wouldn’t describe it as a talent but I have been known to jump a 5ft gate on the back of a horse!

GT – Who would be your favourite party guest?

CD6765396Peter Kay as Brian Potter from Phoenix Nights. If he couldn’t make it then Raj Krishnan from My Local would have to do!

GT – What is the greatest luxury in your life?

My giant bike, never gives me any trouble, doesn’t answer back and takes me off on all sorts of adventures whilst not costing me much!

GT – What is your favourite guilty pleasure?

Timeout chocolate bars!

GT – Do you have any secret ambitions?

I would love to run my own factory, l really enjoy the whole manufacturing and product development part of my work.

GT – What’s your dream holiday destination?

Ireland of course… great pubs, people and craic. Some locations I’d recommend include Kinsale which has some of the best pubs and restaurants and Westport which is great for cycling and live music (there is an odd pub or two there too!)

GT – What are your three favourite movies of all time?

Pride & Prejudice, Withnail and I and The Commitments.

GT – What is your favourite book of all time?

My grandfather wrote a book called The Spy In the Castle. It is about the Irish revolution, Neligan is the name if anyone fancies a read.

GT – What’s your favourite pastime?

Hanging out with my family on holiday. Just wish we could do it more!

GT – If you won the Lottery, what would you do?

Take more holiday! And of course support MAG more.

GT – What would be your advice to someone thinking about coming into this industry (apart from “don’t do it”)?

The Retail industry is a great industry to work in. It is fast moving, no two days are the same whether it is on the good side, like launching new brands or challenging times like dealing with horse meat scares, this industry always finds a way to take stock, reassess and then move forward. In the UK & Irish markets, we are very lucky to have the benefit of working with many fantastic entrepreneurs who are constantly challenging the norm whether that is suppliers or retailers. In addition, it has been a good solid employer, I have been lucky enough to stay employed through two recessions, as thankfully people always need to eat!