This week’s Team Spotlight features Dean Draper, UK & EU Managing Director. From UK’s first mobile phone business and the Silverstone circuit to Next Frontier Brands, Dean has incredible insight into emerging opportunities of the future.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up and went to school in Lincolnshire, UK, then went to university to study Astrophysics. Early on, the lecturer boldly stated there was no money to be made in Astrophysics, so I opened up a designer retail store at the age of 19, and within 3 years I had opened up a secondary store, a wine bar and a cocktail bar. I sold these businesses to start the UK’s first independent mobile phone business, the Carphone Group. Along the way we became the biggest mobile phone business in Europe, installing car phone equipment on production lines at Ford and Volvo. This business was sold and is now part of Vodafone.
I then built various branded beverage businesses and lead the branded beverage division for the Jordan F1 team with Mike Hall-Taylor and Jason Roth, which we distributed all over the globe. After Jordan F1 was sold, I engaged in my interests in real estate development, completing several award-winning developments in addition to leading the Silverstone circuit redevelopment programme. I feel my role at Next Frontier Brands makes best use of my entrepreneurial and opportunity discovery skills.
What are the key responsibilities of your role as EU & UK Managing Director?
The UK & EU region is home to the majority of Next Frontiers acquired drinks brands, as such, I am able to implement my experience in the beverage industry to lead the UK & EU teams to maximise NFB’s strategic goals and meet revenue targets. I work with the brand founders during the M&A process and then help them deliver the sales and marketing strategy across the UK/EU region.
What are the biggest opportunities in the EU & UK market and how are you capitalizing on them?
In the beverage sector, opportunities still exist for us in the premium and ‘craft’ categories and we are creating/updating our brands to reflect this trend. Also, due to changing consumer preferences, opportunities have arisen in the low & no ABV beverage category, in which our brand Fluère sits.
What are the biggest challenges of the EU & UK market and how are you addressing them?
Brexit is a challenge for the movement of goods between the UK and EU, however our team is updated on new regulations and how to overcome them. Bureaucracy tends to make things move a little bit slower, however this ensures that the EU is a safe place to do business. Another challenge in Europe is the 24 official languages spoken in the EU, but luckily we have some linguists in our team.
How do you recharge? What are some of your interests?
I’m a keen skier, but like many of us, I missed the last ski season (for the first time in 40 years!). So I am very much looking forward to getting up the mountain as soon as possible and showing my kids how it’s done! I also live on the Thames, so there’s nothing better than having a relaxing Pin Gin and tonic by the river after work. I’ve also got a keen interest in road cycling, and have cycled 5,000 miles across Europe, so far, to raise money for children’s & cancer charities. We are close to achieving our goal of raising $1m by 2022.