Our line-up of speakers will share their knowledge and expertise around the themes of productivity, technology and finance.
Brian Meechan is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and presenter. He is the director and founder of Stay Gold Media, a communications, media and events consultancy. He’s also the co-founder, co-director and chair of the Cardiff Book Festival, and a non-executive director at FairPlay Trading, a commercial HR and training company linked to the Welsh gender equality charity, Chwarae Teg.
Frances Haque is the Chief Economist for Santander UK, responsible for the economic analysis and macroeconomic forecasts used by the retail bank. Her team are responsible for developing: the analysis of economic risk scenarios to support the stress testing and IFRS9 processes; analysis for planning and strategic purposes; speaking at external events; writing for publications; and providing commentary for news programs including BBC News, Sky News and the Today program.
Andrew has over 20 years in delivering business led solutions and developing strategic partnerships to drive economic growth in Wales. Leading on new technology deployment at AMRC to drive forward increased productivity whilst driving forward a net zero industry. Andrew is passionate about business led economic growth through new technology adoption but also the talent development to achieve this goal.
Linda works with the SSU Cluster team to help Welsh food and drink businesses achieve their scale up ambitions. Linda also leads several European funded food projects, and works closely with Welsh Government on the food export programmes.
The Radnor Hills story began when the founder, William Watkins, returned from Newcastle University, armed with a degree in Agriculture & Food Marketing. His father discovered a source of water on the family farm, planning to water his cattle from it. The water tasted so good that William decided it deserved a wider audience. Over 30 years later, demand has never been higher for Radnor Hills and their wide variety of soft drinks!
Yash is Director at Bridgend based Nashville Food Group, who process coffee bean under their Ferrari’s brand along with white label offering.
Following a career in manufacturing management and consultancy roles Steve had a career change in 2007 when setting up The Pudding Compartment which now employs 25 people making bakery products with a national customer base. Currently implementing several digital technologies to support the business’ growth ambitions.
Joan is a qualified accountant who helps business owners understand their financial systems and the important information that they contain. Joan also helps companies find investment through grants, financial institutions, or private equity. Joan leads the Cluster’s Non-Executive Director Programme.
Rhodri Evans is a Deputy Fund Manager at The Development Bank of Wales, working as part of the New Investments team. With over 20 years experience in delivering debt & equity investment across various sectors and businesses sizes, Rhodri has worked with numerous food manufacturing business across Wales to achieve their growth plans.
Established multi-sector automation specialist providing tailored and standard solutions to manufacturing demands. Michael has over 40 years global cross sector experience in multisector and SME manufacturing companies and is now providing advice, production machinery and automated solutions to the food sector.
Coming from the food industry himself, Tim understands your projects and how to finance them. His background is Director of Whitworths and Northern Foods, not from a bank. He speaks your language, and now theirs, making finance easier to get.
Kevin is a qualified ACMA accountant who is keen to help businesses define a clear strategic plan for the future by improving their financial awareness and use of timely management information.
Richard has worked in the food industry at senior level for a range of companies, from Blue Chip to start-ups, and with a variety of product types. Richard has been with BIC Innovation for over 10 years delivering support and practical advice to numerous Welsh food and drink companies.
Joe Matthews CEng MIMechE, Design Engineering Manager, leads the Sycamore Process Engineering Design department of expert Process and Mechanical Engineers, designing to the latest guidelines resulting in the most efficient end-to-end process solutions, focusing on sustainability and promoting the best OPEX. He’s passionate about process engineering and supporting our customers.
A real estate lawyer for 20 years, Ruth stepped away from law to join her husband’s business, The Cake Crew, as a Director. Bringing with her a valuable set of skills which have been instrumental in developing a robust business strategy to deal with the current business challenges of lower sales, high inflation and operational inefficiencies.
Nick is the MD and co-founder of Oxbury Bank, the only UK bank dedicated to British agriculture. An agricultural graduate from Aberystwyth University, Nick has spent his career in the farming industry, in UK based financial services and latterly in international agricultural IT until he met a former colleague from his Bank of Scotland days, and the Oxbury Bank planning started. Oxbury launched as a fully regulated bank in February 2021.
As a former managing director of food businesses, and starting several of his own, John has first-hand experience of running and scaling food businesses. John also works on the Investor Ready Programme, helping businesses turn around their finances.
Duncan has spent over 30 years in the food industry in a number of senior operational and commercial roles. Initially spending 20+ years supplying chilled ready meals to the major multiples and latterly in the food service arena. He has a detailed understanding of production capacities and as such is able to effectively match commercial opportunities to factory capabilities.
Beatriz Albo is a former research scientist recreating her grandmother’s sauces developed at the family’s award-winning restaurant in Spain that connect with the public’s appetite for authentic Spanish flavours. Her Paella sauce won the best artisan sauce on the BBC TV program “Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge"
Mark Roberts is the founder and chairman of Wrexham Lager Beer Company Ltd. Mark started his business career in 1984 in the wholesale food industry. He then went into property development alongside interests and in 2011 after a chance meeting, restarted the Wrexham Lager Beer Company. Mark has a wealth of knowledge in the engineering and construction industries.