Vince Willows, sales director at Friars Pride, is to retire at the end of May after 38 years of service.
Joining Friars Pride in 1982 as a 24-year-old junior sales representative, Vince has seen the business grow from two depots in Peterborough and Norwich to a multi-million-pound business operating across seven depots the length and breadth of England and the South West.
“I joined Friars Pride at its original Foxcovert Road depot in Werrington and covered as far south as Baldock," says Vince. "We soon outgrew the premises and moved to the current Oxney Road site in Peterborough. The product range was far smaller than we offer today and was held in three small warehouses on site and was delivered by a small fleet of lorries.”
During his time at Friars Pride, Vince has been amazed by the development of the industry, and remembers back to first joining when many shops used wet fish and sold a 3.5oz portion with chips served in a 6x2½ “ bag.
“Today people invest back into their businesses. You can see why award-winning shops still make fish and chips the nation’s favourite dish,” says Vince.
Since Rebecca Lord took over as managing director in 2006, Vince has seen the company strengthen the foundations laid by the original team to grow at a rate that others would love to aspire to.
“Rebecca is an inspiration to us all and generates the same unbridled passion passed on from David and the team all those years ago,” says Vince.
Wishing Vince a very happy retirement, Rebecca said: “I would like to personally thank Vince for his hard work and dedication to Friars Pride over many years. We all wish him good health and happiness in his retirement and hope he keeps his passion for fish and chips.”
Vince firmly believes honesty, hard work, respect, and trust are all the right ingredients you need to have a successful and enjoyable career - as well as having fun. “Just to be part of the fish and chip family from fishermen to fish friers, has been the best time of the past 38 years, and without doubt being offered a directorship is the proudest day of my working life. What a privilege to be sales director of the company I love and grew up in.”
Vince continues, “I am very proud to have worked with the Q Partnership. The way three independent family-owned companies work together so closely is like working with cousins from the same family.”
Despite it being a difficult decision to retire and leave the industry and company he loves, Vince is looking forward to spending more time travelling with his wife Jackie, who also recently retired, and his growing family.
He adds: “I’ve loved my time with Friars Pride. It has a special heart that beats within. When you are a part of the beating heart time flies because you embody the success of a family. I will miss the Friars Pride team, the customers, the challenges, the successes and the buzz.”