The oldest pie company in England, we’ve still managed to grow with the times…
Dave Whelan passes pies to ‘the next generation’
It’s a classic northern rags to riches tale. A tough, working class boy made good who could never forget his roots, helping his local football team make it to the top flight, and even buying the country’s oldest pie company in the heart of his home town.
This week Britain’s fortieth richest man and founder of JJB Sports, Dave Whelan, has signalled the end of an era after announcing the sale of one of his prized possessions, Wigan-based Poole’s Pies, to Neil Court-Johnston.
Dave Whelan bought Poole’s in the late 1980s, transforming the Pemberton factory into a state of the art 200,000sq ft. plant that could make up to 25,000 pies and pastries an hour.
Now, he believes that in Neil Court-Johnston, he has found the right man to step into his shoes and realise the company’s potential. He said:
“Poole’s is a company steeped in tradition that has managed to grow with the times. It has incredible facilities, a revered portfolio of sweet and savoury products, and a strong reputation for quality and service. As such, it presents an exceptional opportunity to dominate the North of England, and develop nationally.
“I recently talked about the importance of supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs who are going to create prosperity and jobs. In Neil, I feel I am handing over the reins to someone with the necessary ambition, talent and know-how to lead a bright new phase of growth for this proud and well respected business.”
Mr Court-Johnston joins Poole’s from his role as Director of Peter’s Food Service in South Wales, with 20 years of commercial management, sales and marketing experience, including two years as MD of Holland’s Pies. As such, he is seen to have the right qualities to move Poole’s forward, a company he knows very well:
“I am thrilled to be the new custodian of this great company. I have a real affinity with the fabric of this area and have been well aware of Poole’s for some time. As the oldest pastry brand, it has such a proud heritage, a time honoured tradition for quality, and world class facilities. It is my remit to complete the work of Dave Whelan and his team, and unlock its true potential.”
“The pie industry brings around an annual £1 billion to the UK economy, making it a major player – and the popularity of British cooking and ‘good wholesome’ food is rising steadily.
“Working with the Poole’s team, I intend to provide the kind of quality, innovation and service that customers instantly recognise. I see the future of Poole’s as a strong, cash rich, profitable and secure business with a series of new sales channels. I’m very much looking forward to the challenge.”