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Our first speaker for the evening is David Williamson, Mathew Algie (http://www.matthew-algie.co.uk/).  David is Managing Director of Matthew Algie, the UK's leading independent coffee roaster.  Matthew Algie is a family business established in 1864, and David is the sixth-generation descendent of the founder. Matthew Algie has grown through innovation. The business pioneered the free on loan approach to filter equipment (1974), created grinders for cafetieres (1987), introduced the first bean to cup machines into the market (1988) and generally took on the big players with traditional values of exceptional customer service and great quality. Matthew Algie launched the first Fairtrade espresso bean (1997) and is now the largest supplier of Fairtrade coffee to the UK foodservice sector. The launch of "Espresso Warehouse" brought "everything but the coffee" to a large number of corporate and independent customers, and demonstrates sustained and rapid growth. Today Matthew Algie supplies a completely integrated service for contemporary coffee to a wide range of high profile customers.  With one of the world's most advanced roasting and packaging facilities, it is recognised as one of the UK's most innovative and visionary companies with a proactive approach to product development. David is currently involved in the development of the Cafe Progreso, a chain of Fairtrade coffee bars in partnership with coffee grower co-operatives in Honduras, Ethiopia and Indonesia, as well as Oxfam. David's passion for coffee has taken him around the world in search of the greatest Macchiato - probably the hardest drink to perfect and a sure fire test of a Barista's milk skills and espresso extraction.  His tour of coffee, food and design trends in cafes around the world took in the emerging markets of Latin America, Eastern Europe, India and China, as well as the latest trends in the more established markets in Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Our second speaker for the evening is Erick Davidson, Chairman and Founder of Tayburn, Scotland's leading branding consultancy (http://www.tayburn.co.uk/).   Erick was born in Berwick upon Tweed and says "I have a Geordie father and a Scottish mother, so am half Scottish and half English which I adapt depending on the situation".  Erick studied architecture, then Business Studies and Design at Newcastle College of Art.  His first jobs were in London for Marks and Spencer, Royal Institute of British Architects, and a Knightsbridge based design company.  Erick worked in London, Edinburgh and Leeds design and ad agencies before starting Tayburn in an Edinburgh attic in 1979.  Tayburn quickly grew to be Scotland's biggest design company and remained there for 20 years. Tayburn has been in the UK top 20 for most of their existence and have offices in Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Istanbul.  Currently 75% of their work is outside Scotland.  Major clients include RBS, S&N, Scottish and Southern Energy and Diageo.  Turnover has been between £5m to £7m for most of  their 28 years and have always been profitable.  His personal interests include football (he was a Hibs Director for 3 years), golf, Art (he is a governor of Edinburgh College of Art).  Erick has been married to Yvonne for 29 years and has 2 daughters, the eldest studied Law at Cambridge and then Yale where she is completing a PhD, the youngest manages Microsoft's advertising despite his attempts to redirect her! The evening will be chaired by Charan Gill MBE, is the face and mastermind behind the hugely successful Glasgow based Harlequin Leisure Group, which incorporated Harlequin Restaurant Group, the largest Indian restaurant chain in the UK. Often revered as 'Glasgow's Curry King' by the media over the last 19 years, Charan has turned the Glaswegian passion for curry into a thriving empire of 17 restaurants across Scotland...and that's just for starters! In 1998, Charan was awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours List for his outstanding contribution to the food and catering industry. It's fair to say Charan's achievements have been phenomenal.  So what is the secret of his success? Rather than being born with the silver spoon syndrome, on the contrary, Charan's childhood was tough.  He arrived in Glasgow from the Punjab, India in 1963 at the age of 9 with little knowledge of English or indeed the western culture. Denied a university education, he started his career as a turner and fitter at Yarrow's Shipyards on the Clyde in 1969. By 1974, he was a married man with a young child, living in a room and kitchen on the south side of Glasgow. To supplement his meagre income in the shipyards, Charan worked as a waiter in his friend's restaurant, the Ashoka West End, in the evenings - and this is when his entrepreneurial flair began to flourish. He had a vision. In 1984 when the opportunity arose to purchase the restaurant, Charan begged and borrowed to secure the deal. Through grim determination (amid at times desperation), he applied his innate ability to turn ideas into innovative concepts - and the Harlequin Empire was born. In March 2005, Charan successfully sold the Harlequin Restaurant Group and is now concentrating on Harelquin Properties and Harlequin Developments, focussing on luxury conversions and new build properties across west central Scotland. Charan is joint Vice Chairman of The Entrepreneurial Exchange.

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Venue information

The Bonham Edinburgh


Mr Charan Gill MBE, Harlequin Leisure Investments


  • Mr David Williamson,
  • Mathew Algie,
  • Mr Erick Davidson, Tayburn

Registered in Scotland. Company registration number SC 160976.
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