Q&A with Lesley Johnson

date published



Kirsten Blackie-Gault



We caught up with Lesley Johnson, general manager of Thomas Lowndes, the food and licensing division of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK. A pioneer in spear-heading the trend of using alcohol in foods, Thomas Lowndes is the UK's premier supplier of branded alcohol to the culinary industry. 

Tell us a bit more about Thomas Lowndes…

A gentleman called Thomas Lowndes founded the original business back in 1826. Fast forward to 1983 and the company was re-formed as a specialist supplier of high strength spirits and liqueurs to the food manufacturing sector.

Nearly four decades later, the business has evolved from supplying spirit for co-branded products to being a leading global brand specialist offering category and consumer led food solutions.

Food trends, innovation, premiumisation and strategic partnerships are all key drivers in our decision making process, with our two latest launches being Jim Beam Jerky and Jim Beam Pork Scratchings, targeting the premium snacking sector for both retail and on trade.

I feel extremely privileged to be part of this amazing business, and to have some of the best food experts within our team. I joined Thomas Lowndes 10 years ago and the journey has been truly amazing. One of our main tasks within the team is pairing our world iconic spirit brands with food. Food and drink! What's not to love?!

This year saw us launch seven food products in one of the UK's largest operators of pubs, bars and restaurants, a very proud moment and a first in the on-trade for Thomas Lowndes.

We have a robust five year plan in place that will see the growth journey continue and I have no doubt there are major wins in global markets ahead.


Can you describe a typical day?

There is no such a thing as a typical day at Thomas Lowndes. I like an early start while the brain is at full power and the day can consist of any element of the business from liquid sales, forecasting, budgets and customer meetings to licensing contracts, new product development, taste panels or strategic meetings planning the future.


What are you aspirations for Thomas Lowndes in the future?

To continue to grow and evolve, eventually doubling our current size in terms of value to become the European leader in global branded food.


What is your favourite Thomas Lowndes product?

Jim Beam BBQ Ribs and our award winning Jim Beam Chips, although not always at the same time!


Keep up to date with Thomas Lowndes via socials on @jimbeamfoods @grousefoods and @courvoisierfoods, as well as www.thomaslowndes.com