David Parkin on failing a taste test and seeing Yorkshire in all its glory

David Parkin on failing a taste test and seeing Yorkshire in all its glory

“NO, no, no. You don’t do it like that!” All I was doing was posing with a tea cup for a photograph. But it was in the tea tasting room at world renowned Yorkshire tea and coffee maker Taylors. And, according to Mo, one of the firm’s seven-strong tasting team, I had picked up the vessel used to strain the tea, not a cup that you drink it out of. Given I was taking part in a photo shoot ahead of an Export Exchange event I was hosting at Taylor’s Harrogate factory, things didn’t have to be totally correct did they? Oh yes they did, Mo informed us. “And you need some proper branding in there, I’ll get the cups with our logo on and we’ll get some proper Yorkshire Tea in the picture too.” I looked at Gary Neild, Taylor’s international director, who, it seemed, had decided on my approach – discretion should be the better part of valour. Mo returned to the tasting room with the props and the picture, I think we all agreed, well certainly in Mo’s hearing, was all the better for them. Quite frankly, I felt I was lucky to get in to the place, given all visitors had been informed before arrival that it was a “nut free site”. Out of the tasting room and back up to the seminar room to kick off the morning event which was focused on what routes to market fledgling exporters should consider before taking the plunge on the international stage. With the fall in the value of sterling fuelling a growth in overseas demand for...
David Parkin on the business of food and drink and being tickled by Doddy

David Parkin on the business of food and drink and being tickled by Doddy

THE most interesting thing about meeting an entrepreneur is learning what inspired them to start out in business and what challenges they faced. Self doubt, inexperience, lack of funding, challenges with cashflow are oft quoted examples of hurdles faced by those who embark along the hazardous path of launching their own venture. Razan and Raghid Alsous’s story started with a bigger challenge. They and their three children arrived in Britain in 2012 to escape the war in their native Syria. They settled in Yorkshire but despite Raghid running a manufacturing business that employed 22 people in Damascus and Razan having a pharmacy degree and scientific background, they struggled to find work. That led to them starting Yorkshire Dama Cheese – which makes Syrian squeaky cheese – like Halloumi cheese – using high quality British milk. The business was launched in June 2014 with a start-up loan of just £2,500 – that was the largest amount they could borrow because they then weren’t British citizens – and it now produces a wide range of products that have won 17 awards. The couple were two of the inspiring entrepreneurs who took part in Woodrow Mercer Finance’s The Business of Food and Drink event which my company, COPA, put on at the Mans Market restaurant in Leeds this week. The capacity audience of more than 100 business people listened in silence as Raghid said: “It was quite difficult for us. I would like everyone here to think about what it would be like if you went home after this event tonight and you were told you had to leave your home by...
David Parkin on doing things right in business, making networking deliver and sporting winners and a loser

David Parkin on doing things right in business, making networking deliver and sporting winners and a loser

THE youth of today. Every generation throws their hands to the heavens and always says things were “better in my day”. I’ve never been a subscriber to that approach. Having interviewed and employed lots of young people, I’m continually impressed by the communication skills, maturity, enthusiasm and tenacity that so many of them display in a world where the challenges of getting a job, never mind forging a career, are ever greater. I often think back to what I was like as a raw graduate looking for a job and I don’t really think I had many of the skills that today’s generation are equipped with. On top of the ability to speak, write and engage face-to-face, young people today have to master the ability to communicate electronically and via social media. It is an ever-increasing minefield – put a foot wrong and you are held up to public ridicule in a way that never happened in the past. Well, not since medieval times when they put offenders in the stocks and pelted them with rotten veg. There is a tendency for people to communicate via email and text – rather than face to face or even by phone. And younger people clearly prefer that. You can call me old fashioned if you like, but there are times when only a face to face conversation will do. Like when you resign from a job. If you decide to move on from one role to another then I think your employer, the person who has been paying you, deserves to be told that. You have to go in to see...
David Parkin warms his cockles with a kangaroo and lunches like a lounge lizard

David Parkin warms his cockles with a kangaroo and lunches like a lounge lizard

HAS the picture above warmed you up on a snowy March morning? I almost used it in the blog last week as it was the last Friday in February and I figured that by the time March arrived we would be heading into spring at full speed. And then the Beast from the East blew in – no not John Prescott – and winter took hold this week with a bite not seen for several years. So you might welcome the warmth of the fascinating photograph above – I don’t know about you but when my chillblains are chirping I do quite fancy the idea of cuddling a kangaroo. Although this week my brush with nature actually involved rescuing a robin which had crash landed under my car after hitting the vehicle in front. If this column was being edited I would have been warned about over-use of alliteration. Editor, schmeditor. Anyway, what was I on about? Oh, yes, Australia. Yes, really. Before Christmas I got a message out of the blue from Darryl Newby, who, when I first met him was a student on a film and television studies degree at Trinity and All Saints College in Leeds. I was running TheBusinessDesk.com and, aware we needed to add some video content to the website, rang the local college to see if they could recommend a student who would film interviews and events for us. Darryl was duly despatched (sorry, I’ll alleviate the alliteration now) and he came to the office for a chat. Originally from Scarborough, he had a haircut like David Beckham and the conversational skills to...