Welcome to our monthly series Meet the Team, where we’ll spotlight the extraordinary people that make Bayley & Sage so special. This month’s feature is on Mark, who was here 26 years ago to help open our first shop in Wimbledon Village and came back a few years ago as our Commercial Director. Read the full interview with Mark below.
1. How long have you been working at Bayley & Sage and what different roles have you held within the company? What is your role now?
Well, this is my second stint and I have been here 2.5 years now, however I was here at the start 26 years ago when I helped Jennie and Terry set up the very first store in Wimbledon Village. That role was part buyer, part operational part ‘let’s get this damn shop open’. I came back in January 2021 as commercial director heading up the buying, production and distribution arms of our business.
2. What’s your favorite thing about working at Bayley & Sage?
Being able to utilise my experience to support and guide a large team with a variety of roles and responsibilities into continuing to drive this unique business forward. Also, access to all the amazing food we sell.
3. Who has inspired you the most throughout your career?
My oldest sister, Juliet. From a very young age she was incredibly ill and at the age of 21, she had life threatening symptoms which required severe medical intervention. This resulted in permanent loss of her hearing. For this to happen at such a time in her life had profound life implications for her, but despite this she has always remained resilient, positive, always looking for a way to achieve what she wanted from her life. To some degree I feel I have inherited this resilience and a ‘can do’ attitude, keeping a focus on what is important, even when the going gets tough. I think that is an important trait in a professional career.
4. Have you always worked in this industry? If not, what other types of roles have you held?
Not always, but for the past 30 years yes. I went to college to learn graphic design and was a commercial artist for a number of years in my early 20’s. I moved into food in the early 90’s and never looked back. One of my first roles in food was working with Jennie in a Convenience Food business in the late 90’s. I then helped set up Bayley & Sage in 1997 before moving on to a professional discovery journey, taking me into the supermarket and food service industries. Coming back to Bayley & Sage though feels like it I’m coming home, back to pretty much where it all started.
5. What’s the best advice you could give someone who’s just starting out in their career?
Don’t be afraid to take a few risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I am not saying be reckless, and maybe, if you’re uncertain, run an idea past a trusted colleague or confidant, but we should not be afraid to fail as we should learn from our mistakes.
6. What are some of the accomplishments you’re most proud of?
Bringing up two of the most creative, loving and inclusive children is definitely my greatest achievement. Running a couple of marathons is not a bad accomplishment either.
Professionally, to pick one or 2 things out is very hard, as I see the whole journey as an accomplishment in its own right. However, I am proud that I was there when we started Bayley & Sage all those years ago, and being invited back to head up the buying, distribution and production teams is also something I am very proud of.
7. What are you most looking forward to this year, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m looking forward to going on holiday with my wife and two adult children this summer. It’s the most important thing in my life, spending time with my family, and I love the fact the kids still want to come away with us.
Professionally, I am looking forward to the continued performance improvement of the Central Production Kitchen. When I came back to Bayley & Sage, with part of my brief to oversee this operation, it was an area of the industry I had only ever experienced as a customer. Running a division from the supplier perspective brings with it a whole host of challenges one doesn’t appreciate as a customer. The past 2 years has been an incredible learning curve for me and the company in this regard, and continuing to see the growth in this part of the business is really exciting
8. If you could only eat one thing from Bayley & Sage for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
If it we’re available all year round, I would have to say Vacherin Mont D’Or, but as it’s only available for around 4 months a year I would be incredibly hungry for 2/3rds of the year. I could probably fill the rest of the year in with the king of cheeses, Brie de Meaux. Cheese really is my thing.
9. How do you spend your time when you’re not at Bayley & Sage?
Holidays with the family as I’ve already mentioned are the things I treasure most. My wife and I are keen walkers and we love the coast so weekends are often spent on long walks by the sea. I like to cycle, play a fair bit of tennis, and going to the cinema is something we try to 2 or 3 times a month.
10. What’s one interesting fact that we might not know about you?
I nearly scored a goal at Stamford Bridge, the home ground of my beloved Chelsea FC. It was in a suppliers vs customer match when I worked at Sainsburys and we beat our meat suppliers 4-2, I think. A great save by the keeper denied me. But I would say that wouldn’t I.
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