A catering equipment figurehead who has spent the last 30 years importing North America kit into the European market is retiring from the industry at the end of this year.
Jim Doherty, who co-founded FEM in 1993 with Harry Hogan after they spotted an opportunity to bring leading equipment brands from the USA into the British market, will hang up his company boots next week.
Although his business partner will carry on with the firm, Doherty has decided it’s the right time to call it a day.
Originally he had intended to retire in June 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant it was all hands on deck and he agreed to stay on until the end of the year to see the company through the crisis.
When the duo originally set up the operation, it was just them and a telephone in a small premises in Glasgow.
It is now among the 10 largest catering equipment suppliers in the UK, with a warehouse of almost 50,000 square feet and revenues of around £20m a year prior to the pandemic.
He said: “The idea behind FEM was to establish strategic partnerships with major American manufacturers. We made early contact with the Vollrath Company and went on to sign an agreement with them at the 1993 NAFEM Show.
“To have a market leader like Vollrath as our first partner manufacturer was a fantastic start to a new business. Subsequently we’ve enjoyed wonderful partnerships with many companies, such as Hamilton Beach Commercial and Cambro – the longevity of our business relationships has been fantastic.”
“The greatest success has been seeing the ongoing growth of FEM. From a zero start, FEM has grown year on year, becoming one of the most successful businesses in the industry. We have done this together with an outstanding team, and have been fortunate in having supportive, market-leading supply partners and a great customer base, many of whom are now personal friends.”
Hogan paid tribute to his friend and colleague by calling him the “the face of FEM” and said he had been responsible for opening many doors for its products and services.
“He’s professional, tenacious, perseverant, friendly and understanding, and always endeavoured to help the clients with his can-do attitude.”
Doherty said he now plans to use his retirement to spend more time with his “long-suffering” wife Sahira and the rest of his family.
He said: “We had our first grandson earlier this year and haven’t been able to spend much time with him. Hopefully we can put this right soon. Travel is also on the agenda when again Covid allows and Sahira has been putting together a list of destinations, hopefully starting with South America sometime in 2021.”