Every day over the Christmas period, we’ll speak to winners from the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Denis Lynn, chairman of Lynn’s Country Foods – Finnebrogue Artisan – who won the Innovation award
‘Always seek to innovate – or you will be left behind’
Denis Lynn, who started Lynn Country Foods more than three decades ago, has never stood still. He made the key decision to convert the estate he’d bought in the early 1990s – Finnebrogue, near Downpatrick – from beef to venison production, making it one of the largest deer farms in the British Isles. He continues to diversify the business, recently launching Naked Bacon, the first mass-produced rasher to be made without nitrites, which have been linked to cancer.
What’s the key to great leadership? “Being absolutely clear about what you’re trying to achieve and putting all of your energy into it. Always seek to innovate – or you will be left behind.”
What has been your biggest challenge? “We refused to make a single rasher of bacon until we knew how to do it without nitrites. After spending years trying to find a way, we finally got there by linking up with a Spanish partner and adapting its technology.”
What’s the secret to building a great team? “A great team needs to be clear about its overall objective and the individuals within it must complement each other. At Finnebrogue we have people from different backgrounds and with different fields of expertise, all striving to make food the best it can possibly be.”
How are you approaching Brexit? “As a Northern Irish food manufacturer, we’d like more clarity from the government. I’d like to see it commit to unilateral free trade with the EU if there’s no deal, as heavy tariffs on European pork imports would be catastrophic.”
What are your aspirations for 2019? “To figure out how food production can reverse climate change. We must develop environmentally friendly ways of rearing livestock, before we damage the planet irreversibly.”