An interview with Jonathan Jones, Managing director of Trading at Tregothnan
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Jonathan Jones, originally from Cornwall. I’m the Managing Director of Trading at Tregothnan. We trade tea grown in Cornwall out to China and all over the world.
How’s the work/life balance?
I totally have the work/life balance. I have a ten second commute… but then twenty minutes from here I can be on the sleeper train to London. I see it as my hotel, in fact. I jump on the 10.50pm and the next morning I’m in London before most commuters even get there. It arrives into Paddington at 05.20am in the morning. You can have a leisurely breakfast, a shower. So although we’re a long way from London you’re really connected. Cornwall is a great place to do business.
When did tea production start here?
The tea really got going in 1999. We planted our first tea bushes then, but it was really thought through as a project that would establish us as a luxury British brand. We sold our first packet of tea in November 2005. We’re celebrating our tenth anniversary this year, and we’re hoping to expand every year. There’s another 80 acres of tea going in over the next year.
What makes Cornwall the perfect place to grow tea?
We believe Cornwall is the perfect place for tea because of climate, and the fact we’re seven miles from the open sea. What we do is mimic some of the Himalayan conditions that you find in places like Darjeeling. Now we’re sixteen years in, we’ve selected varieties that are even more suited to the exact conditions that we have.
What’s unique about Tregothnan Tea?
What makes it unique is that it’s the most British tea in history. We’ve grown camellias here for over 200 years, which is the genus that tea comes from. Tregothnan Tea tastes very distinct. It’s got leaf that no-one else can grow.
What do you love about living in the West?
So many things… we’ve got such a fantastic environment. We’ve got a profile in food and drink that’s unparalleled in the world. I’m so lucky, working at Tregothnan, to be able to travel to lots of places in the world. But every time I come home, whether it be from Brazil or anywhere in Asia, I come back and I think wow, we are so lucky to be here.
How do you feel your business relates to the West?
Very strongly. It’s our international headquarters right here in Cornwall. Very few businesses can say that. So it’s absolutely essential our people come from here. And we want to bring more talent into Cornwall and develop more talent here. So that’s about training, housing, up-skilling farmers, growing more things down here. So making it not a museum but a very vibrant place to live, and an economy to create great jobs.
What about your business connection with FGW?
We were successful in working with Great Western Railway to take our tea on board. We were so excited as a company. [The train is] the most fantastic environment where people have time to enjoy your product… They can think about it, they can watch the British countryside roll by and they can actually indulge themselves and get right into your brand. In our first year working with Great Western Railway we hope to serve at least a million cups of tea. For us, that’s hugely important. So Great Western Railway for us is a great launch pad. We're going to take on the world by train.
Find out more at tregothnan.co.uk