Food for thought

Flamboyant food entrepreneur and reggae musician Levi Roots gave an audience of Solent business leaders food for thought at an annual growth summit.

“It is all about the brand,” he told an audience of more than 100 at the Solent Business Growth Summit at the Hilton Ageas Bowl, near Southampton.

Reggae Reggae Sauce guru Levi, 56, who is currently opening a string of Caribbean Smokehouse ‘rastaraunts’, recounted his journey from cooking his grandmother’s recipe in Jamaica to a food brand worth millions.

He said: “Make your brand a part of you – it has to become an extension of who you are. Build your powerful brand and you can sustain growth.

“I wanted my brand to be me, a Brixtonian Rastafarian with three-foot dreadlocks, songs and food - and it has all sprung from there.”

The breakfast event, promoting business growth to decision-makers, senior management and business leaders, was co-sponsored by four companies with a strong operational presence across the South..

Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank, accountancy and investment management group Smith & Williamson, commercial property consultancy Hughes Ellard and law firm Trethowans co-hosted the summit.

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board member Jan Ward CBE, founder of Corrotherm International Ltd, gave attendees an overview of Solent region trading conditions and stressed the importance of businesses hiring good staff

She said “The overall outlook is good, but we are facing stiff national and international competition and we can’t be complacent. The answer for growth is structure, innovation and skills.”

Trethowans Senior Partner and Head of Employment Simon Rhodes was involved in making the event happen, he said: “The Solent Business Growth Summit started last year and was an idea coming out of the recession to put some inspiration and motivation back into the Solent economy through the words of inspirational people.

“It is all about trying to encourage entrepreneurial skills and growth within Solent. It is such a great place in which to live and work and we just wanted to emphasise that fact to the outside world.

“Trethowans, Smith & Williamson, Hughes Ellard and Santander came together as a partnership to make that happen and we are absolutely delighted with it.”