Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Old School, New Agenda - Jim Cane, Managing Director, Young's Seafood

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Old School, New Agenda - Jim Cane, Managing Director, Young's Seafood

Article excerpt

You can say what you like about Jim Cane, as long as you don't call him a 'wine-bar marketer'. These reprehensible characters, according to the managing director of Young's Seafood, are the sort who would rather ponce about in fancy drinking establishments with ad agencies than get on with the job.

Then again, says Cane, there are no wine bars in Grimsby, where he lives and works, so it is doubly fortunate that he is not inclined to pass his time in such a way. At this point, his PR woman, who is listening in to the interview, points out that such establishments are now referred to simply as 'bars'. The observation is lost on Cane - a natural entertainer with the gift of comic timing - and he ploughs on with his wine bar line.

Although his manner is delightfully 'old school', Cane is by no means yesterday's man. In January, he was tasked with heading the branded business arm of Young's following a restructure that split its branded operations from its own-label division.

'There is a slightly harsher culture; a culture that is more commercial,' he says. 'It is a business that is always feeling it has to prove itself. It's not London, it's not glamorous and therefore we try a little harder.'

Cane, 55, is an accomplished raconteur, and talks about his formative years with affection. His time at Rowntree Mackintosh in the late 70s and early 80s provided a traditional marketing education, but the slow pace that characterised the organisation leads him to compare the experience to that of working for the civil service. When he left for Ross Foods - just as freezers were becoming more commonplace in households - the growth of the frozen-food market meant the pace of his working life became frenetic.

'In those days, we used to launch about 200 products a year; that's an average of four a week. There was always a joke that if it got to Thursday and we had only done two, we would be in danger of getting behind,' he recalls.

Now in his 'third decade of frozen food', Cane asserts that, while the 80s were marked out by explosive growth and development, and the 90s by the emergence of specialist brands such as San Marco pizza and Linda McCartney, both of which he worked on, this decade is a seafood marketer's 'dream'. …

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