A-Z Of Employers: Kerry Group

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The Independent Online

Kerry Group is an international food and ingredients business with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. Among brands you may have heard of, and tasted, are Wall's sausages, Mattessons pork and turkey products, and Homepride flour. It also makes own-label products for high street supermarkets. It all began in Listowel, south-west Ireland, in 1972, when a dairy-processing plant was built to produce powdered milk protein from fresh milk, mainly for the American market. This is the product that enables liquids to blend together. Diversification in the Eighties, and the acquisition of more than 70 businesses, has turned Kerry into a multinational with more than 200 sites worldwide. It is now split into five divisions: foods, ingredients, flavours, bioscience and agribusiness.

Vital statistics:

The current annual turnover, globally, of €3.7bn (£2.6bn), is up by nearly 60 per cent on five years ago. In the UK, there are 7,500 employees, spread across 35 sites.

The office:

The group headquarters are in the Irish town of Tralee, famous for its annual Rose of Tralee competition. In the UK, there are divisional centres in Egham, near Windsor, Bristol, and Cam in Gloucestershire.

Is this you?

Every year about 20 graduates are taken on in UK roles, including manufacturing, engineering, finance, IT, personnel and marketing. Relevant degrees are required for appropriate areas, but your class of degree will be less important than personal attributes.

The recruitment process:

Online applications for 2006 entry open in October this year. Go to the careers section of www.kerrygroup.com. After screening, a selection are invited to first-round interviews, which include verbal and numerical tests. Practice tests are at www.shldirect.com. If you get through to the assessment-centre stage, you should be within two weeks of knowing whether you have a place on the two-year graduate development programme. This consists of a number of management-training modules running alongside your real job. This will depend on the business area you've joined, but it might entail running your own production line, managing equipment installations, testing products for safety and hygiene, and managing taste panels, as well as pulling the marketing and financial strings.

Top dollar?

Food businesses never give away their recipes, and this one likes to keep its pay secret as well. All it will say is that graduates get a competitive salary and a package of benefits.

Beam me up, Scotty?

Rapid career progression is the aim. Many current senior managers started as graduate entrants.

Who's the boss?

The CEO is Hugh Friel, who's been with the company since it began. A keen football supporter, he frequently travels from Ireland to watch a famous red-shirted team in north-west England, although whether his seat is at Old Trafford or Anfield is kept a secret.

Little-known fact:

The Wall's website (www.bangers.co.uk), predictably, informs us about the world's longest sausage. It was 13 miles long and made in Birmingham.