JOHN Dunsmore, the former Scottish & Newcastle chief executive, has joined the board of Genius Foods, the fast-growing Edinburgh company that specialises in gluten-free bread and cakes.
As well as becoming a non-executive director, Dunsmore has taken a 5 per cent stake in the firm, which he described as a “very exciting” proposition.
Dunsmore recently retired as chief executive of Tennent’s owner C&C. He joined the Irish drinks group in 2008 after S&N was taken over by Carlsberg and Heineken.
He said: “Genius is one of the highest-profile and fastest-growing businesses in Scotland. I have every confidence that it will become a household name, not just in the UK, but internationally.
“I am delighted to have an opportunity to play a part in delivering this success.
“The management is excellent and when I looked at the proposition I thought it looked very exciting.”
Genius chief executive Roz Cuschieri said Dunsmore’s expertise in the fast-moving consumer goods market would prove invaluable to the company which has helped grow the market for gluten-free bread by 250 per cent since June 2009, according to figures from supermarket analysts at Kantar Worldpanel.
She added: “To fulfil Genius’s international potential we need directors of his calibre and experience.”
Dunsmore’s appointment follows the recent news that Cairn Energy founder Sir Bill Gammell was joining as chairman, replacing corporate financier Edward Murray who remains on the board as a non-executive director.
Gammell is gluten intolerant and originally invested in Genius in 2009 after tasting one of the breads made by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, the company’s founder.
Bruce-Gardyne created the firm’s first bread recipe after her son was diagnosed with coeliac disease, and its products are now stocked by every major supermarket in the UK.
Genius is the best-selling gluten-free brand in the UK, with more than 50 per cent of the “free from” bread market and last year broke into North America after signing a deal with US firm Glutino.
In March, it won a contract to supply products for the Spanish stores of French supermarket giant Carrefour.
The company currently has 22 products in its range, including pancakes, pizzas and savoury pies, and is in the process of developing a “significant” number of new products for this year.
Dunsmore, who is also the senior independent non-executive director at brewer and pubs operator Fuller, Smith & Turner, said some 10 to 15 per cent of the population may have varying degrees of gluten intolerance and the potential for international expansion is “considerable”.
He added: “In an internet world, people’s awareness of these things is very strong. When you have a core consumer, they’ll hear about products that are good quality and seek them out.”
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