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FreshAwards recognises industry’s inspirational leader for Lifetime Achievement

8 June 2018

The UK fresh produce industry celebrated the achievements of one of its most inspirational leaders at the Fresh Awards 2018.  Laurence Olins was awarded the prestigious tribute of the Fresh Awards Lifetime Achievement, sponsored by Greencell.

“Thanks to his dedication and passion Laurence has made a colossal impact over fifty years in our industry, and he leaves an inspirational legacy for future generations,” commented Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium.  “We are delighted to mark his achievements on behalf of the industry.”

After graduating from Leeds University with a degree in economics, Laurence joined the family business, Louis Reece, in Spitalfields Market, transferring a year later to Covent Garden Market, where he ran two businesses.

In 1980 Laurence was promoted to Deputy Managing Director and in 1985 he was involved in the sale of Louis Reece to Glass Glover where he became a director and left the market to head up a direct sales and importing operation. Two years later he was appointed managing director of Poupart following a buy-in by himself, his twin brother Paul, brother Jonathan and cousin Adam.  His son Benn and nephew Adrian later joined Poupart bringing the fifth generation into the business.

In 1992 Laurence became Chief Executive of Hillsdown Produce and was subsequently part of the management buy-out team which acquired Poupart from Hillsdown in 1997.  He remained Managing Director of Poupart until 2007 when he was appointed Chairman of the Poupart Group of Companies. 

He used his expertise and leadership to benefit the wider industry and started a parallel career as non-executive director to produce companies including Valley Grown Salads, G’s, Reynolds and latterly Grace Foods.

At the peak of his career Laurence was the Director/Chairman of a wide range of food, distribution, marketing and farming companies operating across the UK and Europe as well as the USA, Caribbean and Africa with a combined turnover in excess of £1 billion. 

With a passion for Corporate Social Responsibility, Laurence joined the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers becoming Master in 2000.  He initiated the annual City Food Lecture at Guildhall, London which he chaired for 14 years and he was also elected Chairman of British Summer Fruits (soft fruit crop association).  Following the UK referendum to leave the EU, he was at the forefront of the debate over the fresh produce industry’s subsequent labour shortages.

In December 2017, Laurence retired as Chairman of the Poupart Group, now the second largest national produce company. 

The Fresh Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented by Graham Young, Managing Director of Greencell in front of an audience of around 500 people at the gala evening, hosted by Shane Richie at The Pavilion at the Tower of London on Tuesday 6 June 2017.

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