As part of our series profiling the finalists of the Business Champion Awards 2023, we spoke with Paul Hargreaves, founder of Cotswold Fayre, a double finalist at this year’s awards.
What are you currently doing at the ‘Cotswold Fair’?
I am the Founder and CEO of Cotswold Fayre, a two-sided business. Our main business, which began in 1999, is a wholesaler of specialty foods to approximately 2,000 retail outlets (farm shops, garden centres, delicatessens, food halls, etc.) across the UK. Later, in June 2021, it also opened its own retail store called Flourish. sells its own products and has a 120-seat restaurant.
I am fortunate to have two great leadership teams on both sides of the business that manage most of the day-to-day aspects of the business. I set the culture and strategic direction and support their great work. As I got older, I realized that other people were often able to do a better job than I did. Must be good at finding the right people.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Originally, I sold some goods in the Cotswolds in my spare time in the late 90’s, but the manager of the farm shop told me how difficult it was to easily source and order a decent range of fine British food. talked about This proved to be a common problem, so they rented a small warehouse, filled it with fancy food and drink, and started supplying it to retailers across the UK.
Coming from a philanthropic background, I wanted to do business that not only made money but also made a positive difference in the community. So it’s possible that of her original five employees, the other three of his called “unemployable.” Ex-con, drug addict and recovering from alcoholism. Since 1999, we have tried to make a positive difference in social and environmental ways and in everything we have done since then.
Imagine our joy when we discovered the B Corp movement in 2015 and became one of the first B Corps in the UK. These are all companies like ours that put people and planet above profit, and there are now 1,200 of them in the UK. The movement is now our main inspiration and I spend about 20% of my time talking to other companies about what is better for people and the planet.
who do you admire?
It’s like the question I ask in an interview, “Who has been the most influential person in your life, aside from your family?” I have always been disappointed in people’s ability to answer questions. There aren’t enough inspiring leaders to encourage employee growth. In fact, this is what inspired me to write The Fourth Bottom Line, a book about being an inspiring leader. I think the book gives Nelson Mandela as a great example of leadership, so he might be the answer to this question. can also learn a lot.
Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Short answer: “a lot”. His two main things are to listen to his intuitive side. The main times I made mistakes were when I made very rational decisions but had a nagging feeling inside that I wasn’t going in the right direction. learning
The second is to hire better people faster. We have a great team now, but if we had hired someone more expensive and experienced sooner, it would have worked out sooner. To do.
What defines the way business is done?
If you put people and the planet first, profits will follow. Consumers and buyers these days want to buy products and services from companies that are making a positive difference in a broken world, both for the planet and for the poor. Companies that do this thrive more than businesses that are only for the benefit of their shareholders. As a business, the more we give, the more we grow.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Don’t hold back, don’t be afraid to fail, and dream. Obviously you have to balance taking risks and playing it safe, but most of the time you spend too much time playing it safe. Failure is still taboo in England. I’d rather hire someone who’s learned by making mistakes than someone who’s never taken a risk before. give advice to
Cotswold Fayre was a finalist in both the Sustainable Business category and Growth Business of the Year at this year’s Business Champion Awards.