Shaper: Lucinda Bruce Gardyne

Show aired on 30th August 2014

Transcript of the show

Elliot Moss
That was Summertime from Herbie Hancock here on Jazz Shapers with me, Elliott Moss. Thank you very much for joining me here on Jazz FM. This is of course the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, soul and blues alongside their equivalents in the world of business and my business shaper today is Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne; she is the founder and product director she tells me of Genius Foods. They are apparently the UK’s leading gluten free brand and one I have tasted myself and you are going to be hearing a lot from her and all about her £40 million plus business. In addition to hearing from Lucinda you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that some brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, soul and blues, including The O’Jays, Albert King, Leann Carroll and this from Bobby Womack.

That was Across 110th Street from Bobby Womack. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne is my business shaper today and she is the founder of Genius Foods and Genius Foods are rather genius actually because they are all about being gluten free but tasting absolutely amazing and some of you, many of you, probably will have sampled her wares at some point because they are available in most good supermarkets I know from personal experience. Lucinda thank you very much for joining me.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
It’s a pleasure, thank you for inviting me here.

Elliot Moss
Now you are apparently, according to my sources, someone who came into the food business via a slightly circuitous route. You wanted to be a doctor.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Is this true?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
How did you end up moving from a Degree in physiology to exploring the passion that you had for food and then let’s talk a bit later about where that led and how you decided to set your own business up?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Well my family were very much in the catering trade, in the food trade. My Gran’s family started Lyons Bakery and you know the family had all worked in Lyons for years and years and years and knew just how difficult the food industry and catering was. Food was always my absolute top, top priority in life. Our family life revolved around food, we would have long family lunches. That was my happiest experience of being a child really was sitting round the table with family eating a delicious meal and it was always my passion but I was, I loved science, I always wanted to sort of look after people in some way and I felt really that I should go and do medicine. I felt that would be a really good vocation for me. When I started my physiology Degree – unfortunately my mother died in my A level years and so my A levels weren’t quite as great as they should have been so I did physiology rather than medicine and you to then go on and do medicine after that and while I was at university I just thought no, you know I love my physiology, I love science but I know that food is what I should be in. So when I left university you know with my Degree which was really important to get that behind me I went to Leith’s School of Food and Wine, did a nine months course there in London and it was just the best thing I have ever done. At the time the school was attached to a pub and we would all go and sit in the pub afterwards and just talk food until we were all thrown out at midnight, every single day, because all of us were just so impressed and so delighted to be with lots of other foodies and it was a really happy time and then after that I went to Bibendum because I felt that I really needed to hone the skills I had learned.

Elliot Moss
This is in Brompton Cross in London?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Fulham, it’s on the Fulham Road.

Elliot Moss
Fulham Road yes.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes and spent a year at Bibendum really honing my skills and really learning what it was to be a chef and to be surrounded by food for sixteen hours a day you know and that was great that is really where it all kicked off.

Elliot Moss
And after that I believe you got a job in Tuscany.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes so after I worked at Bibendum I then went to Tuscany because I wanted to learn more about Italian food, I wanted to learn how to make Italian bread. I was always fascinated by bread because it is living. You know the moment you put yeast into it the bread becomes a living being really and you have to look after it and care for it to make it do what you want it to do. So I went to Tuscany, spent six months cooking for American and UK Arcan architecture tourists in Umbria and in Tuscany and spent all my time making bread, making Tuscan and Umbrian food for these guests and learnt a great deal about Italian food and the effect of weather on bread. It’s incredible on a stormy day the bread doesn’t rise and on a sunny blue sky day the bread would rise beautifully and I just became more and more obsessed with the bread.

Elliot Moss
Find out where that obsession led next with my business shaper, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. Time for some music this is Leanne Carroll and Big Yellow Taxi.

That was Big Yellow Taxi from Leanne Carroll. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne is my business shaper today. She is the founder of Genius Foods and that is a gluten free business and it is growing quite significantly. Tell me a little bit before I move into what happened after Tuscany, tell me a little bit about what Genius is if people aren’t aware of exactly what it is. I mean I know but what how would you describe it if you hadn’t seen it?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Well Genius Foods is the UK’s leading brand in gluten free. We specialise in gluten free bakery products because bakery products are the most difficult foods to make without gluten and so what we are trying to do is bring convenience to people who choose to live on a gluten free diet or have to live on a gluten free diet by making the inconvenient stuff, the stuff that is really hard to make.

Elliot Moss
And making it taste nice.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
And making it taste, the taste is everything. People who have to live without gluten or feel that they feel a lot better without gluten they deserve more than most to be able to eat a really great tasting slice of bread and enjoy it and feel normal.

Elliot Moss
Now actually I suppose when you start looking at the equation if you like behind the success of Genius there is the person who studied physiology that might well have been a doctor on the one side, there is someone who is passionate about food, there is someone who went to arguably one of the homes of the places where you make bread and then you ran your own catering business I believe for quite a few years …

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
You have written about food. You are obviously and you said it earlier you know I was a foodie and those happy moments were with the family; all of that could come together for some people and make nothing but for you a couple of things crystallised didn’t they when you were looking to – I mean you know the idea behind Genius was actually you having an issue yourself with one of your children.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Tell us a little bit about that.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
I had already written the Techniques Bible for Leith’s School Food and Wine which is all about the behaviour of ingredients. I wrote that with another teacher there …

Elliot Moss
Those badly behaved ingredients, I am going to show them whose boss.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Exactly you know what they are doing, what they are actually doing in your food, when the food goes wrong, how you put it right, when you have to chuck it in the bin, why you use particular sorts of meat for you know certain sorts of cooking, what flour is doing in a white sauce …

Elliot Moss
Pretty involved stuff …

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
… and what it is doing in bread because you know, flour is incredible it’s the most versatile of ingredients. So I had already used my love of food and my love of science together in that book for Leiths and that is really where it all began and when I was writing that book I had my first two children. So my first child is very dairy allergic; he is severely allergic to the protein in milk. So very quickly we already realised we had to live without dairy as a family if we wanted to eat the same food and then by the time I had just about finished the book and it was about to be published we realised that my second son was gluten intolerant and so suddenly it was yikes you know here I am, I am a trained chef and I have got to learn how to cook for my family again, you know I don’t know how to cook for my family and I felt that the best way to do that was to write a book and so I wrote ‘How to Cook for Food Allergies’ which was my second book and that was all about substituting ingredients in cooking. So if you are making a Victoria sponge cake for example it shows you how to take the wheat flour out and use ground almonds, rice flour and cornflour in its place to get exactly the same effect because the philosophy of my book and my philosophy that I live by is that I want my family to eat normally. I want to be able to make one meal that we can share with everybody. I don’t want to be running a cafe at home; I don’t want my children to be fussy and faddy and for that reason I must cook normally and eat the same.

Elliot Moss
Find out what happened next because actually what happened next was I think something that really defines you and you marking you out from someone who may have stopped there and just helped the family versus someone who really wants to go and create something and share it with the wider world. Latest travel in a couple of minutes but before that some words of wisdom for your business from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliott Moss. Every Saturday morning at 9.00am do join me. I talk to some fantastic people who are shaping the world of business. My business shaper today is Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. She is the founder of Genius Foods and that is the business which basically enables you to have wonderful tasting food that doesn’t have any gluten in it. How about that for a clever idea. Lucinda we were talking about the fact that one of your children had a dairy allergy, you had just got your head round that and then the other one decides to have a gluten allergy and you write a book essentially for people that want to cook for kids with allergies. You were telling me before about the fact that you didn’t want a cafe at home and any parent with children with different needs – I have a vegetarian amongst my four – will know that it came become a nightmare and you do have to somehow compromise and conform without you know all the mess around it. It sounds like you wanted to share what you had or rather that you felt that other people would probably be experiencing the same thing as you. That led you to something else didn’t it?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes absolutely. I just, I felt that if I as a chef, as a trained chef, was struggling with feeding my son, you know the dairy was okay the gluten was not because bread is in everything, flour is in everything. In nearly every meal you have wheat in some form. That was a real struggle and I felt if I was struggling there must be many other people out there too who are in a worse position than me and that’s where I really felt I needed to write the book and then on the back of that come up with a bread that everyone could enjoy.

Elliot Moss
Now you came up with a bread but then you did something else which I think is what marks you out as someone who kind of wants to make something happen. I believe if this is true that you went off to your local branch of Sainsburys and you go the buyer to taste your wares, is that true?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Its true yes.

Elliot Moss
And they liked it and they said carry on, what did they tell you? Is that what they said you are good, was it like a little, was it a patronising pat on the head or was it a bit more than that?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Well no because they already had my book on the shelves so I wasn’t a mad housewife you know, I actually went in with a little bit of gravitas.

Elliot Moss
Well you might be but you also had some credibility.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
You can’t go saying there is not, the two things are totally different.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes so …

Elliot Moss
But they believed you?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
… I had some gravitas. They had my book, they could see that I had created something over eighteen months you know that really was different. It was a fresh, soft, tasty loaf of bread when the bread available on the shelves at the time was dry, crumbly and had a very, very long shelf life and was quite often shrouded in layers and layers of packaging. It was highly unappetising.

Elliot Moss
So you went there and you showed it to them which is one thing but then something else happened as well. I believe one of the fathers of one of your children’s friends who is a celiac happened to be someone who was kind of a person that knew a few things.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes. Well the supermarket were impressed and they actually put me in touch with a bakery literally forty minutes down the road which was just incredible because when you live in Scotland you are a long way away from many things, a lot that happens in the south and the fact that I had a bakery just down the road when I had three small children was hugely helpful. So that was fate and indeed the other fateful turn really was that every day I would drop my little boy off at school and one of the father’s in the changing room would say you know how is the bread, how is the bread? He would ask every single day how is your bread, how is your bread and I would say Bill you can try it when it is ready and he had to wait for three years to try my bread.

Elliot Moss
And this is Bill Gammell, Sir Bill Gammell, CEO of Cairn Energy.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
He liked the bread and it is a bit like the Remington ad, so impressed was he that he wanted to invest in the business.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
He rang me up very shortly after trying the bread. Well when it was finally ready and I had finally scaled it up with the bakery that Sainsburys had told me about, I dropped some bread round to his house because I knew I could make it – I wasn’t going to give him something out of my kitchen – and he rang me the following day and said Lucinda you know I can pretty much have whatever I like, I am the CEO of Cairn Energy, you know, he said it in a very nice way, he said but the one thing in life I can’t have is bread I am a celiac and this will change my life and it will change the lives of many other people like and and I would really like to invest in your business and introduce you to people who can take this to market. You know you have obviously got great talent in product development but you don’t have all of the skills that you need to take a product to market and I agreed and you know I very much liked him and thought yes lets go for it, let’s do it.

Elliot Moss
Which is where application and luck suddenly became very happy bed fellows. You will be hearing a lot more about what happened next, and it is pretty brilliant to, with my business shaper Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. Stay with me. Time for some music in the meantime it’s the O’Jays with Backstabbers.

That was Backstabbers from the O’Jays. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne is my business shaper. We were talking about that moment when Bill, Sir Bill, decided actually it’s going to change his life and he went here are some people you know that can help you, at that moment Genius was born.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
I mean did you have a name for the business at that point?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
No, we all sat in a darkened room, all of the people that he had introduced me to and we came up with some dreadful names, one of which was Glucinda which we promptly got rid of.

Elliot Moss
That was a lucky move – Glucinda.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes, and we finally came to the conclusion that Genius was the right name because it reflected the sheer hard work and thought that had gone into developing the product.

Elliot Moss
And also just from the users’ point of view, the consumers’ point of view it is a genius idea I can have bread but it is not going to make me feel its something I can’t have.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Exactly.

Elliot Moss
This was five years ago. You then and obviously Bill and the other investors I imagine helped then surround you with the people then from packaging and distribution from a kind of factory piece and the whole capital expenditure you would need to invest and what you shouldn’t do and banks and all of those things, were there many many advisers or where there just a few that surrounded you that were very instrumental in all of this?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Well at the beginning really we were a very small team; there were about eight of us. So we had our CEO who was a brand expert, Jervis Cotham, and we had a packaging lady who was fantastic …

Elliot Moss
Did you choose all these people or were they introduced, how did it?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
They were actually introduced to me by Bill, he had known them for a long time …

Elliot Moss
And trusted them all.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
And trusted them implicitly and felt that they were the right team to surround me and they absolutely were. It was fantastic working with them and you know thanks to the great work we did, we launched the bread in 2009 to the most unbelievable response from consumers.

Elliot Moss
Well you have won lots of Awards as well haven’t you?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And this had helped you be entrepreneur of the year I believe with EY and all these other amazing accolades. I think PWC thought you were rather clever too. Glenfiddich sort of said the same. I mean best new product award in 2012 for the seeded loaf and so on and so forth. I mean amazing stuff. Do you look back now and its only a few years, do you look back now and say how did I do that or is it kind of no its just been so many incremental steps that you haven’t really noticed?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
I look back at, I think developing the bread on my own in my kitchen at home I had no distractions and it was very very hard because I was very tired as a mum looking after three children with no help so that was really hard. The bit that was really incredible was when I was working with that initial team to actually turn my product that I had made in my kitchen at home into something that we could sell in supermarkets and such a small team, there were eight of us, basically took, launched the most incredibly successful product where we became UK free from leader in the period of about two months on the back of a brown loaf and a white loaf. You know we went from no loaves to 10,000 loaves a month in the bakery and the response from consumers was quite astounding. It was quite difficult to keep up with the demand.

Elliot Moss
We will have our final chat with Lucinda plus play a track from the Blues great Albert King; that is after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was Born Under A Bad Sign from the legendary Albert King. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne is my business shaper just for a few more minutes and we have been talking about all sorts of things. How physiology and chemistry and science has morphed with a person who is pretty obsessive, who is pretty passionate, who also understands and knows how to I guess – exploit is the wrong word – but kind of do something with a problem because often I talk to, my guests are people that have seen a problem and wanted to fix it. Looking forward to your business now as you are going to shape it in the next few years, what are the kinds of problems you are looking to solve?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Well we are now in a very different position. So five years on we now own the bakery that I first approached with my loaf of bread which is absolutely wonderful and I have to pinch myself when I walk in there. I just think wow you know, we now own this bakery. So it is now about keeping a bakery, you know going, 24/7, you know day in day out. I think we shut, we close for two days a year over Christmas and that is it and so it’s a grinding business that just goes on and on and on and there is never an end to it. So what we hope to do over the next two to three years is obviously expand our business as much as we can.

Elliot Moss
You are already abroad aren’t you?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
We are in Europe now, we have just launched ten products in France, we are in Spain, we are in the Middle East, we are in Australia now.

Elliot Moss
And you have also got your kind of equivalent of the concessions because you have got a few things in Cafe Nero haven’t you?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
We do. We have rolls in Cafe Nero which are selling very well and the great thing about that is it gives people the convenience when they are out and about. They don’t have to worry about leaving the house without a sandwich, they can go into Cafe Nero and get their sandwich. We are also in the pharmacy as well because many of our consumers may be retired and can’t afford the slightly higher prices for gluten free so it is very important that we are available on the NHS as well.

Elliot Moss
So it sounds like I mean, just from a standing start to a £40 million turnover business and there is more to come, you look remarkably relaxed and on top of things, have you got a, you talk about the first set of team if you like, is there a new set? Are there more? I mean how are you managing to look like you don’t have a care in the world?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Because.

Elliot Moss
Are you one of those people that is paddling viciously underneath and I just can’t see?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
I am paddling viciously underneath, I think I would be lying if I said I wasn’t but I am very lucky I have the most incredible team around me, I really do and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have a business. You know I do lots and lots of product development, you know I spend a great deal of time with the product team.

Elliot Moss
What is the best bit for you still after now five years in to this fresh young business?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
My best bit is my Friday MPD meeting where I get together with the product team and we look at where we are in the life of developing a product and what we are going to do to it next.

Elliot Moss
And how many different products do you have now across the range?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
We have thirty products in the market.

Elliot Moss
And you plan to just do as many as you need to do that fulfil the different needs?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
We do, we do and so but in order to do that you need the most incredible team around you to bring it to life.

Elliot Moss
Brilliant stuff. Do you still write or have you stopped? Is there no time to write anymore?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
At the moment I am not writing but watch this space.

Elliot Moss
Yes I have a feeling there is another one coming. Listen it has been lovely to talk to you. Just before I let you go what is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
I have chosen Nina Simone’s Mr Bojangles because I think it really reflects the struggle we all go through just keeping our heads above water in life and the struggle you go through when you are trying to achieve your goals.

Elliot Moss
Thank you very much. This is Mr Bojangles from Nina Simone.

That was Mr Bojangles from Nina Simone, the song choice of my business shaper today, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, the founder of Genius Foods. What a calm person, someone who was really an expert in the scientific side of the business and someone who matched that with a passion for making food that tasted good and that resolved most critically a problem. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s next Saturday, 9.00am for another edition of Jazz Shapers. In the meantime though stay with us here on Jazz FM, coming up next its Nigel Williams.

Lucinda Bruce Gardyne is the founder of Genius Foods, a company that specialises in tasty gluten-free food.

Genius began to take form after Lucinda’s son was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance.

She then got through three ovens creating a loaf of gluten-free bread that her son would like, after failing to find anything in the supermarket that could be described as tasty. That bread recipe became Genius Foods in 2009.

Genius has quickly responded to consumer demand from around the world, and now sells its innovative products in North America, Spain, Holland, France, Australia and most recently, in January 2014, launched in the UAE.

Genius gluten-free sandwiches are also available in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

Lucinda sits on the Board at Genius as a Product Director and spends a great deal of time in the company’s two bakeries, developing pioneering and tasty new products. In addition she acts as brand ambassador for the company, speaking at seminars, universities and business events.

Genius continues to grow rapidly at home and abroad, and has introduced 9 new products, including choc-chip brioche, pain au chocolat and croissant in 2014 so far.

Lucinda lives in Edinburgh, where Genius is based, with her family.

Food was always my absolute top priority in life. Our family life revolved around it.

I then went to Tuscany because I wanted to learn more about Italian food and how to make Italian bread.  I was always fascinated by bread because once you add yeast it is living.

People who cannot eat gluten, or find that they feel a lot better without gluten in their diet, deserve to be able to eat a really great tasting slice of bread, enjoy it and feel normal.

My first child is allergic to dairy, my second child is gluten intolerant. Suddenly I thought, yikes, I am a trained chef and I have got to learn how to cook for my family again.

I had no distractions, developing the bread on my own in my kitchen at home.

We went from no loaves to 10,000 loaves a month and the response from consumers was astounding.  It was quite difficult to keep up with the demand.

5 years on, we own the bakery that I first approached with my loaf of bread, which is absolutely wonderful. I have to pinch myself when I walk in there.

I am paddling viciously underneath; I would be lying if I said I wasn’t.