on the board Lee McDonagh

changes to the factory and processes and offsetting our carbon emissions by supporting the charity Climate Care.

What’s on your agenda? Quality comes first and the need to maintain our exacting standards. With increasing demand comes the need to look at ways to increase efficiencies whilst maintaining our artisan hand crafted production techniques which include hand finishing and polishing.

Most rewarding aspect of your job? Seeing a flat piece of metal transformed into a pan that will be cherished and used forever.

Most challenging aspect of your job? The buck stops with me

During your time in the housewares industry, which retailers have impressed you most and why? In recent times, I have been impressed by those retailers searching out innovative products and initiatives that suit the needs of today’s discerning customers.

improve margins we decided to change direction and offer unique innovative products that we manufactured in the UK. Now at every opportunity we are transitioning and investing in manufacturing capabilities and developing innovative products. In 2014, with the purchase of Samuel Groves, many new opportunities opened, including the opportunity to develop unique first-class bakeware and cookware.

What’s your working week like? Varied – no two weeks are the same.

What is your exact job title? Managing director of U Group and Samuel Groves

What is your career background? After graduating from Cardiff University, I resisted joining the family firm for a few years and started a career in recruitment. Three years later, the lure of the family grew and I joined the company sales team, focusing on the hospitality business in the north, and progressed to national account manager and the rest is history. When my father retired, I took over the company as managing director.

Tell us a bit about the company U Group’s foundation has always been as a manufacturer of barware, and hospitality products, complimented by imported goods. To

October 2020

What’s keeping you busy? I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like I’m busy, but much of my time is spent in embracing the opportunity to take our Mermaid Bakeware and new Samuel Groves Cookware to market. The company is dealing with an increasing number retailers that are keen to back desirable sustainable British manufactured products. Customers admire the fact

we offer the full package; a unique manufactured product produced to exacting standards, packed in sustainable packaging and in addition, they appreciate we are taking responsibility for our impact on the environment by making • | 25

What’s the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the housewares industry’s suppliers? Historically consumers visit a store to touch and feel the quality. As more and more sales go online, as a manufacturer of first-class products with a fantastic build quality and finish, one of our challenges is demonstrating this on a flat screen.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you joined the housewares industry? Covid-19, Brexit and becoming a retailer, as well as a manufacturer and distributor.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the housewares industry? Find your niche.

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