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Alumni of the month – December 2013

Ian Stone
BA (Hons) Business Studies, 1988

Robert Humphreys

After completing the BA Hons Business Studies degree in 1988, Ian Stone went on to work for some of the world’s most recognisable food and beverage brands. He is currently Director for apetito, the UK’s largest supplier of frozen meal solutions to hospitals, care homes and meals-on-wheels with a turnover of almost £115m.

Despite not having studied A-levels, Ian’s determination to complete a practical business course earned him a place on the Higher National Diploma at LSBU (then known as the “South Bank Polytechnic”). Having gained top marks in his first year, he was then offered a place to transfer onto the BA Honours Business course and has not looked back since: “I had a great time at LSBU, both in terms of studying and socially. I remember the Student Union being on Rotary Street and Wednesday afternoons playing football for the South Bank team at the sports ground in Dulwich.”

In his final year of study, Ian was advised to put his business talents to optimum use by working for a large company in order to gain invaluable and build a foundation for a future career. After a short stint working for the London Borough of Croydon, he soon secured apposition with Nestle UK, the world’s largest food manufacturer: “I found working for local government a little slow, so I decided that I would relocate anywhere in the country (or world!) to work for a large private sector firm. I ended up moving next door to Nestle UK and enjoyed 8 fantastic years in a variety of commercial sales and marketing roles. To this day, the company is still in my heart.”

As a provider of food systems and services to the most elderly and vulnerable in society, apetito supply nearly all the “meals-on-wheels” in the UK both through local councils and also to the private consumer under the Wiltshire Farm Foods Brands. They also cater for approximately 100 hospitals and over 250 care homes: “We are probably the most successful food company no one has ever heard of! We have doubled the size of our business since 2003 and have achieved 15 consecutive years of sales and profit growth.”

Despite its sustained commercial success, apetito’s core markets such as meals-on-wheels and hospitals have been severely affected by government cost reductions: “We’ve had to identify new markets whilst continuing to innovate in our old ones.” As Sales, Marketing & Development Director, innovation is at the heart of Ian’s agenda. In 2012, his team were awarded Orange National Business Award for Innovation.

The award was recognition for a new hospital feeding system developed by apetito which enables restaurant-style service and reduced wastage for the hospital caterer, as well as providing high-quality food for the patient: “The first major hospital using the system is in Bromley Kent, where all my 3 children were born. I have been incredibly proud to visit the site on a number of occasions since to see the benefits of the system.”

As Board Director for the British Frozen Food Federation, Ian is keen to become more involved in the Food and Drink Federation, the main regulatory body for the industry. He is also looking forward to the next stage of growth at apetito, including international expansion: “I am very happy at apetito. We are a growing company and with the forecast of over 85s expected to double by 2030, this is a great place to be.”