He was born into a family with a long legacy in the fresh produce sector, dating back to the 1880s when his great grandfather emigrated from the Ukraine and started a greengrocery business in London.
Raised with a twin and two younger brothers, it was no surprise that from an early age he showed a highly competitive streak and strong leadership qualities. He excelled at school, captained both rugby and cricket teams and went on to study economics at Leeds University.
As a young graduate he joined the family business and began his career in the cut and thrust of London’s iconic wholesale markets, starting in Spitalfields where he quickly made his mark and within a year he was running two businesses out of Covent Garden. In the years that followed he managed the wider business, skilfully steering it through sales and acquisitions with his brothers and his cousin until it was eventually sold in 1985.
2 years later the Olins family group was headhunted to run Poupart which is the oldest fruit company in England founded by Huguenots in 1895. He was elected as Chairman and under his direction and the family management, the company flourished and expanded to become the mighty Poupart Group we know today. In the last decade his son and nephew joined the business bringing the 5th generation into this highly successful family affair.
At the peak of his career he was the Director and Chairman of a range of companies operating across the globe with a combined turnover in excess of 1 billion pounds.
In his later years he started a parallel career as a non-exec director to a number of well-known produce companies using his vast expertise to benefit others. He joined the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers becoming Master in 2000 and he initiated the annual City Food Lecture which he chaired for fourteen years. He was elected Chairman of British Summer Fruits successfully promoting British produce across the UK and following the Brexit referendum, he was at the forefront of the debate over the industry’s subsequent labour shortages.
In December 2017 he retired. During an extraordinary 50 year career, he has had a colossal impact on the fresh produce sector, from berries to salads and beyond. His legacy is inspirational and his tireless dedication and commitment to the industry make him one of our all time greatest Lifetime Achievement winners.
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