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Acorn winner 2007: Philip Rowden

10 May 2007
Acorn winner 2007: Philip Rowden

Age: 26
Position: Senior food services manager, Debenhams, County Kildare, Ireland

Career to date

Rowden joined Debenhams direct from university in 2003. Having started out as a management trainee in the West Midlands, he was soon given the role of deputy catering manager at the company's site in Dublin, progressing to catering manager in late 2004. Last year he was appointed to the position of senior food services manager for Ireland. Philip now looks after 12 stores with a combined turnover of £6.5m and a staff of more than 200 and he is set to take over responsibility for the stores in Northern Ireland, too.

Why is he a winner?

Rowden's mix of ambition, enthusiasm and business acumen has seen him progress rapidly at Debenhams to the point where he became the youngest senior food services manager in the company.

He showed great aplomb in his running of the catering operation in Dublin, which at the time was the company's only catering operation in the Republic of Ireland. When the company took over a chain of nine stores last year, Rowden's track record and knowledge of the Irish market made him a natural choice for the position of food services manager for Ireland. Since then he has been busy assimilating the new stores into the Debenhams fold, with two new openings in Newbridge and Cork last year.

The acquisition of the chain of stores has brought with it a number of challenges, not least providing the necessary training and coaching of the new staff and the task of unifying the stores, along with the other Irish Debenhams stores, with those in the UK under one brand.

Rowden also has strong people-management skills and is involved in coaching staff on the junior management programme.

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