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Catherine Blackburn

“Having graduated with a Business Studies degree from Sheffield Hallam University in 1982, I spent a very exciting decade working my way up the marketing ladder. I worked on some great brands with blue chip companies including Unilever, Heinz, Guinness, Colgate Palmolive and Allied.

But the draw of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond was strong. I joined Maison Caurette, a London Drinks Company, as Marketing Director in 1993 and worked with Chris Garden for the first time. Three years later we set up Ubevco Distributors Ltd with our third partner, Dennis Miller.

As a Managing Partner at Ubevco, I experienced the exhilaration of running the ship (did I say exhilaration?) and the following 12 years brought many new experiences which continued to broaden my horizons above and beyond my marketing background.

In the last 3 years, I have taken the opportunity to complete an MBA at Leeds University Business School. I also spend time as a volunteer with the Prince’s Trust, helping under-privileged young people start up their own businesses.”

 

 

Chris Garden

“After graduating from Christ’s College, Cambridge University in 1978, I trained as a Chartered Accountant with Touche Ross in London (now Deloitte). This was driven by a desire to learn and experience business in general rather than become a career accountant. Upon qualification in 1982 I joined the US practice of Ernst & Young, but based in the Cayman Islands – a very tough call.

Returning to the UK in 1984 I spent 5 years as finance director of a privately owned medium sized advertising agency, FCO, and oversaw its sale to a fully quoted company.

I then joined Maison Caurette following its highly geared purchase by venture capitalists and spent five years in both financial and general management roles trying to stabilise this volatile but at times fast growing business.

Working with Catherine, we began to build solid relationships with international brands that were to stand us in good stead when we finally managed to set free our entrepreneurial leanings and founded Ubevco in 1996.

The next decade gave us the opportunity to prove our business model and philosophies could work and enabled us to achieve personal financial security. Since then I have had the luxury of being able to involve myself in private investment opportunities in a couple of unrelated industries.”

 
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