LAUNCHPAD: R&R ice cream boss eyes Middle Eastern flavour

James Lambert, chairman of R&R Ice Cream, which owns the Fab and Skinny Cow brands, says the company is poised to enter the Middle East and America.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2013
Scooping the prize for entrepreneur of the year at EY’s annual awards last night, James Lambert said he is eyeing up opportunities in America and the Middle East after tasting mouthwatering success in Europe.

‘We haven’t quite finished the job in Europe, but we’re halfway through. And so we’re looking to America and the Middle East – two great markets full of consumers, which have some backward-thinking businesses. There’s lots of space for us, and over the next five years I’m going to lead our business into the space that has been created by big businesses becoming slightly slower, less focused and less loving of their consumer.’

Founding R&R Ice Cream in 1985 (originally called Richmond Ice Cream), Lambert has grown the business to a turnover of £750m which employs nearly 3,000 people across Europe.

The Yorkshire-based company – which owns products including Fab, Skinny Cow and the Lyons Maid brand – is Europe’s largest ice cream manufacturer. It has been on an acquisition spree in the last year, buying up the Yoomoo frozen yoghurt brand in January to boost its presence in France, Germany and Italy. In April, private-equity backed R&R paid £49m for Fredericks Dairies, manufacturers of ice cream under the Cadbury, Vimto and Barratt’s brands.

‘Never give up, always plan for the future. Never look backwards for too long, and you’ll have a lot of fun going forward. That’s what we do every day,’ Lambert said.

He will now go on to compete with more than 60 other country winners at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.

A special global achievement award was also given to Warren East and Mike Muller of Cambridge-based software design giant ARM, whose chips are used by the likes of Apple and Samsung. Their story was hailed as an ‘inspiration’ to all UK entrepreneurs.

‘My motto has been to make sure that people in my team are much more capable of doing their jobs than I could ever be,’ outgoing CEO Warren East said.

‘One of the successes at ARM is realising that the technology has to be good enough. The business, however, has to be absolutely excellent,’ CTO Mike Muller added.

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