James Lambert Voted Entrepreneur of the year
Mr Lambert founded the business, originally called Richmond Ice Cream, in 1985. From a standing start, he has grown the company to a turnover approaching £750m and a pan-European workforce of nearly 3,000.
He moved from the chief executive role to chairman following the sale of the firm for an undisclosed sum to private equity house PAI Partners in July this year.
R&R Ice Cream is Europe’s highest volume producer of ice cream, second only to Unilvever in the global take-home market. Besides its own proprietary brands, it also exclusive product for some of the biggest retailers in the world, including the Chokablock for Tesco, and licensed ranges for Smarties and Disney.
R&R Ice Cream also holds the UK licence to make ice cream for Cadbury, Del Monte, Vimto, Britvic and Barratt’s.
The company has been on the acquisition trail in recent years, buying up Rolland and Pilpa in Franc, Durigon in Germany, and Italy’s largest own-label ice cream maker Eskigel. In the UK, it bought the frozen yogurt maker YooMoo earlier this year, swifly followed by Lancashire-based Fredericks Dairies.
The judging panel, chaired by entrepreneur Sir Nigel Rudd, commented that, “James has extraordinary vision and ambition. He has built a regional family business into a true global contender, through acquisition at home and abroad – he is even selling ice cream to Italy.”
Stuart Watson, UK Entrepreneur Of the Year leader at EY, said: “James is a true British success story. With fantastic tenacity James has steered the company through some very challenging economic times, beating multinationals at their own game and transforming the industry.”
The gala awards, hosted by Jeremy Vine, also honoured 11 other winners. Lloyd Dorfman, founder of foreign currency exchange Travelex, picked up the master entrepreneur of the year award.
There was also a special global achievement award made to Warren East and Mike Muller of ARM, the world’s largest semiconductor IP Company, and their story was hailed as an “inspiration” to all UK entrepreneurs.
Lambert will now go on to compete globally with more than 60 other country winners at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.