Podcast Episode 13 is out: Guy Singh-Watson from Riverford

By Lukas on 24 May 2023

In the mid-80s, Guy Singh-Watson left his cushty job as a management consultant to return to his roots (quite literally) as a he ploughed a few acres of his parents’ farm and started growing organic vegetables. Over the 30 years since, Riverford Organic Farms has grown to become the most recognisable name in organic produce in the UK, turning over £100m + per year. The list of ‘little bit radical’ aspects to Guy and Riverford is extensive, from pioneering ‘direct-to-consumer’ veg boxes in the 90s, to becoming an employee owner business, to being a proud B Corp. A famously self-assured and opinionated figure, Guy doesn’t hold back in this interview where he covers:

  • How his childhood on a farm encouraged him to think creatively, practically, and entrepreneurially
  • His parents’ radical ideas on farming and the world which influenced him
  • His very unusual 8th birthday present
  • How he continues to become more radical as he gets older and is determined to challenge what he sees as terrible governance
  • His views on Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Conservative government
  • From milking cows, to opening the New York office of a Management Consultancy within a year of graduating
  • The early days of Riverford
  • His hideous experience selling to supermarkets and
  • The ‘freaks from the fringes’ who inspired him to switch to a direct-to-consumer model
  • The community-led marketing approach which grew the business in the early days
  • His dislike of the word ‘professional’ and how he reveres ‘competence’
  • How capitalism needs to be regulated and his admiration for the B Corp movement
  • How the ‘customer is not always right’
  • Riverford’s environmental policies and his frustration with over-focus on plastics
  • The importance of fully understanding how your product fits into your customers’ lives
  • Employee ownership and his motivations for handing over ownership of Riverford to its employees
  • Whether every business could be employee-owned
  • His desire for a political shift to re-distribute wealth to those who need it most
  • Our need to reclaim the sense patriotism and collectivism that founded the NHS and the welfare state

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You can listen to the podcast here:

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