Peter Backman Managing Director
Peter is the Managing Director of Horizons, an expert on the structure and dynamics of the foodservice sector, and its supply chain, in the UK and across Europe. He is responsible for the company’s vision and driving the business forward. He has been involved, as a researcher and consultant within the sector, for over 30 years blending his knowledge with a deep understanding of the trends, key players and challenges of organisations with an interest in foodservice.
He regularly speaks at conferences worldwide and his views are sought by television, radio, the Bank of England and the press. Peter has many innovations to his credit having been the first person to define the structure of the eating out market in the terms which are now widely used by the industry, as well as the most extensive database model of the foodservice sector.
Peter is the past Chairman of Arena, the pan-industry networking organisation that he was instrumental in setting up twenty five years ago. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a member of the Market Research Society.
He is happily married, the proud father of two children and when not at work, can be found in the gym or investigating his family history.
Emma Read Director of Marketing and Business Development
Emma is responsible for marketing and business development strategy and implementation, understanding client requirements and working with them across the foodservice sector to deliver bespoke solutions. She is an expert in marketing and in understanding consumers' needs, drawing on a wide range of data, insight and experience. She has an in-depth knowledge of the foodservice industry built up over 25 years working in all sectors from manufacturing to operations and consultancy.
Her background has been in marketing and commercial roles for major industry players, where she has led a number of projects to capitalise on new opportunities based upon evolving customer needs.
Her analytical and professional approach ensures effective implementation of strategic initiatives. Her strength is to work with clients to understand their needs and facilitate the identification of opportunities and solutions, backed up by the realism of having worked first hand in the industry.
She lives in a beautiful area of Oxfordshire where two children, a busy social and sporting life, as well as a love of art and travel, keep her busy.
Nicola Knight Director of Services
Nicola is responsible for design, implementation and on-going development of Horizons’ innovative data and insight based services for businesses and organisations with an interest in foodservice. She is also intimately involved with understanding clients’ changing needs in order to provide relevant and insightful services that are closely tailored to their requirements. These services include menu analytics, foodservice trends, industry training and visual analytics.
A CIM-qualified marketer, Nicola has over 15 years’ experience in the UK foodservice sector, working with manufacturers, wholesalers and operators in a range of marketing roles. Her early career was spent at 3663 where, as Own Brand Manager, she was responsible for overseeing all aspects of marketing strategy and activity for the wholesaler’s own label ranges. As head of sales and marketing for 3663’s e-commerce division, mymarket, Nicola received a Caterer & Hotelkeeper Acorn Award in recognition for her early accomplishments in the foodservice industry. Continuing her interest in the emerging e-commerce area, Nicola has spent the past six years working for specialist hospitality technology companies, introducing innovative new e-commerce products to the hospitality market, which have helped many market-leading operators and suppliers work together more efficiently.
Outside of work, Nicola lives with her husband and two young children in Oxfordshire. When not chasing them around, she enjoys eating out (essential market research, she informs us), balanced with pilates and zumba classes to work off the calories.
Alan Wick Director of Strategy
Alan leads Horizons' strategic thinking having gained over 25 years' business experience as an entrepreneur nationally and internationally. He founded, co-founded or invested in four businesses, each of which was sold or turned around successfully. He was Managing Director of a professional audio manufacturing company and worked all over the world setting up and growing an international distribution network. For several years he was based in New York as President of the US distribution arm; this contributed to the company winning the Queen's Award for Export Achievement, the first in its field to do so.
As joint Managing Director of Scher International, Alan worked with hospitality and foodservice clients such as Hilton, Café Rouge, Marriott, Pret A Manger and Whitbread, measuring, advising and training them on customer service quality. While there, he developed the UK's first Customer Service Benchmark for Hotels, for which he was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Hospitality. He later built up his own successful coaching and consulting business, which he merged with Shirlaws, an international business coaching organisation.
His experience and skills enable him to drive depth and rigour into business transformation and lead strategy planning and implementation by maximising operational efficiency, sharpening market positioning and increasing capacity while keeping overheads under tight control.
Alan is a proud father and enjoys connecting with his passion of playing the drums. He is an avid football fan (modesty forbids him mentioning which team) and he enjoys hiking, skiing and scuba diving.
Michelle Diederichs Marketing Communications
Michelle is responsible for implementing marketing communications at Horizons, which includes social media, events and direct marketing. She has more than 13 years experience in communications, working across a range of sectors including financial services, IT, public sector, food and drink. In the past four years she has focused on the foodservice sector, working for businesses such as Unilever Food Solutions, Electrolux Professional, United Coffee UK and the industry charity, Hospitality Action.
Her time spent in top agencies has helped Michelle to develop a depth of experience in communicating to different audiences through a variety of channels. She now specialises in delivering tailored campaigns to both operators and suppliers in the foodservice sector.
Michelle lives in Streatham, South London with her husband and dreams of having a dog. Her pastimes include walking, reading, eating out, art, music and going to the gym.
Nadia Hilton Financial Controller
Nadia runs Horizons' accounts department, responsible for financial management of the organisation. She has over 20 years experience of accounting and has helped many organisations improve their cashflow and operational efficiency.
She spent the first 16 years of her working life helping to run a family business, selling photographic and audio equipment. Nadia is happily married with 2 teenage daughters and has recently discovered a passion for zumba.
Linda Pettit Public Relations
Linda is responsible for Horizons’ media profile, involving briefing the press on Horizons’ latest reports and data, providing comment for journalists as well as writing editorial contributions for various publications.
Horizons’ media profile is an important aspect of ensuring the company’s data and opinions are regularly sought. Linda is in regular contact with business-to-business titles in the food and drink sector and national journalists as well as radio and TV. She works closely with the Horizons team ensuring they are well briefed on corporate activity and trends in the foodservice sector.
Linda’s career in journalism has included positions as managing editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, deputy editor of Independent Retail News, editor of SuperMarketing, and assistant editor of Family Circle responsible for features, health and consumer coverage. For several years she has been a specialist consumer contributor to BBC Radio and has been heard on Radio Four’s You and Yours and appeared on UK Food’s former daily food programme, Good Food Live.
Linda has written for a range of publications, both business and consumer, including The Grocer, Caterer and Hotelkeeper, The Times and the British Hospitality Association’s (BHA) UK Trends & Statistics Report. She has previously edited The UK Food & Beverage Report, Digest and Dine Out for the Restaurant Association, and Hospitality Matters, formerly the British Hospitality Association’s quarterly magazine.
In her spare time Linda has a young family, enjoys running and horse-riding and, of course, eating out.