Henley Bridge, distributors of the award-winning Chocolat Madagascar range, was founded in 1998 and is one of the UK's largest distributors of chocolate products and high-end ingredients to chocolatiers, ice cream manufacturers, bakers and the food service industry.
The company was taken over by HMS, the independently owned parent company of ingredient distributors Kent Foods, BFP and Garrett Ingredients, in July 2019 - promoting Hughes to managing director when founder Tony Mycock retired after almost 47 years in the food ingredients industry.
Hughes, who has been with the company for over eight years, joining as food service account manager, is tasked with moving the company forward, building on its reputation for quality, service and value.
“For the past 14 months, it's been a baptism of fire. We are one of the leading ambient ingredient distributors in the UK, but outside of that, we do have strong worldwide brand leaders within our product portfolio,” says Hughes, who started her career in the food industry as business development manager with Barry Callebaut UK.
“In addition, we provide our customer base with strong, technical, expert advice and also training solutions on our products, as well as offering innovations for their products within the marketplace as well,” she says.
In our Creative Conversations podcast, Hughes explains how the lockdown allowed the company to regroup, finding time to revamp its website and put the finishing touches to its popular Christmas brouchure.
“Christmas 2020 is going to look and feel very different, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have the magic of previous years,” says Hughes. “Big Christmas parties will undoubtedly be off the menu, replaced with more intimate family occasions when eating out. A lot of people will also be looking to enjoy restaurant-quality food in their own homes, and there is a huge opportunity for outlets to offer takeaways, delivered food and meal packages that consumers can finish and serve at home.
“This year more than ever, restaurants will need to create dishes that set them apart from the competition.”