The Business On: Andy Duncan, Chief Executive, HR Owen

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The Independent Online

A case of from supermarket sweep to supercars?

Are you suggesting Andy Duncan is downmarket? That the well-heeled drivers of the hoity-toity cars such as Aston Martins and Bentleys that HR Owen, the company he runs, sells and services might turn their noses up at the likes of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and Bachelor's Super Noodles, not to mention Celebrity Big Brother. That's rather mean.

So where has all that come from?

Well, Mr Duncan was responsible for those brands and many others (PG Tips anyone?) during a 17-year stint at Unilever, where he established his reputation as a marketing whizz. From there he moved to the BBC, where he was one of the people behind the successful launch of Freeview in the wake of the collapse of ITV Digital. After that he became boss of Channel Four.

He presided over the kerfuffle?

You mean about bullying during the 2007 run of Celebrity Big Brother? Yup. But he was also behind Four's digital strategy and piloted the relaunch of digital channels E4 and Film 4 together with the launches of More4 and 4Music.

And how is business now?

Not bad thanks – it seems Mr Duncan made the unlikely move into car sales at the right time. And yesterday, HR Owen bought Broughtons of Cheltenham which operates three Bentley franchises, as well as an Aston Martin franchise. It is paying £1.5m cash plus £1.3m to settle a loan from the operation's previous shareholders.

So what does he drive?

His PR man says he's test-driving lots of cars at the moment: and if you're one of those people who finds motors fascinating, the list will make you green with envy. In addition to the aforementioned Aston Martins and Bentleys, HR Owen deals with the likes of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus, Maserati and so on.

Sounds like fun?

Oh yes. He was driving an Audi S5 prior to joining HR Owen, which is not to be sniffed at, but Mr Duncan should soon be able to upgrade even that fancy motor.