Working with wine makes everything fun, but it's not why I went into this business. I like the constant buzz of retail - you're only ever as good as yesterday's takings. And I love the customer contact. I couldn't run a widget business.
I studied natural sciences at Cambridge, specialising in metallurgy. I never used it directly, but it did allow me to spend a long vacation on a copper mine in Zambia - which promptly taught me that I didn't want to spend my life on a copper mine in Zambia.
I took a graduate role at Rugby Cement, then moved to a division of Dunlop that made fire-fighting equipment. I was working in a Yorkshire village, a long way from the action. I wanted to learn about customer-facing business, so took an MBA at the London Business School. This bred opportunity. I joined Polaroid, marketing instant cameras. It was a major consumer brand, and very exciting. I then became marketing director at Bejam, moving up to chief executive in 1987. We soon acquired a small wine-warehouse business called Wizard Wine, and when Bejam was taken over by Iceland, I acquired Wizard from Iceland. That's where the journey started. In 1991, we had the chance to acquire Majestic, which was in a lot of debt. I suspect it was arrogance that made us think we could pull it off - everyone said we were mad. But we are on track for our 15th year of record profit.
There's a lot of me in Majestic, but there's also a lot of Majestic in me. It will feel strange not turning up for work here. But in my late fifties I'd like to take some non-exec roles and stretch the concept of the weekend. There's some personal heartache as to whether it's the right decision. A lot of people here have been with me since the beginning. I'll miss them, and the excitement of winning.
- Tim How steps down as CEO of Majestic Wines this year.