The ingredient company Kerry celebrates 50 years in operation

The ingredient company Kerry celebrates 50 years in operation

The global taste and nutrition company Kerry is celebrating its 50th anniversary since it was formed with functions at its Group headquarters in Tralee and Listowel, where its first production facility was located.

Since then, Kerry has expanded to all corners of the world, manufacturing in 150 locations in 36 countries. It employs more than 22,000 people and last year generated revenues of 7.4 billion euros.

It’s far from where it all began: in a caravan in a field outside Listowel, with only one employee.

The employee was the founding CEO, Denis Brosnan.

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He explained to RTÉ News that Kerry’s ambitions at the time were much more modest.

“When I came back from London as the first employee, there were five large cooperatives in Ireland and Kerry was the forgotten county,” he says.

“I guess there was a determination to make sure there needed to be six big cooperatives in Ireland and Kerry did. That was probably the first big hurdle and the first milestone.”

Kerry’s founding management team, from left, Denis Cregan, Denis Brosnan and Hugh Friel

Within a decade of its formation, Kerry was looking abroad and looking for opportunities for rapid expansion.

Kerry Group plc was formed in 1986 and two years later the acquisition of Beatreme Foods marked its entry into the United States.

Beatreme opened doors for Kerry in other markets. Kerry entered Latin America in 1994 and Asia-Pacific in 1997. Throughout this time, the number increased: annual growth was usually double-digit.

Mr Brosnan says that the secret behind the success was quite simple.

“We were never afraid to take on anyone. It didn’t matter how big, how strong, how tall they were,” he says. “When we entered new territory, the discipline we would use was to keep your head under the breastplate so that you actually had a significant size and strength before the main competitors realized you had arrived. We were never afraid, we were just there to outsmart them. “

Denis Brosnan and Hugh Friel on the stock exchange for the launch of Kerry Group plc.

Recruitment was another tool for success: Kerry went through the country’s third-level institutions and attracted the best students with promises of travel and hard work.

“They took the Kerry philosophy all over the world,” says Brosnan.

He says that in the early to mid – 90s, he and his management team knew that there were additional opportunities for Kerry to take advantage of, and they went around the world to take advantage of these. It was during this time that the company expanded to South America, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Kerry opened its first manufacturing facility in China in 2003.

At that stage, Denis Brosnan declined as CEO and Hugh Friel – until its member of the management team – took over as CEO.

Hugh Friel, Stan McCarthy and current CEO Edmond Scanlon have maintained that growth path while developing Kerry into what they like to describe themselves as the world’s leading taste and nutrition company.

Mr. Brosnan praises their management of Kerry, and attributes to the company’s success a simple philosophy that Kerry is better.

“We can do things better; we can create a future – which has never disappeared,” he says Brosnan. “It’s a big tribute to the three CEOs – Hugh, Stan and Edmond – and the whole team that came after me and it’s no different today, whoever you meet, regardless of nationality, on any continent.”

As Mr Brosnan recalled Kerry’s first 50 years, the current holder of the CEO’s office, Edmond Scanlon, is expected to outline in broad terms the roadmap for the next 50 years at the Listowel and Tralee functions later today.


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