My working day normally begins with the school run at just after 8am. My wife Rebecca waves us off before we make the short, but picturesque, journey to Ely. We have to pass the two other Ely petrol stations on our way to school and the children automatically shout out the prices off the pole signs in order to allow me to keep my eye on the road!


At 8.30am I ring Paul, my operations manager, for an update on the day’s planned activities. At this point my journey can take me one of three ways. If I’m travelling to my Norfolk store I will take the company lorry in order to drop off or collect goods. That gives me an excellent excuse to call in to my favourite restaurant Steve’s Burger Van, just off the A10 south of Downham Market. I am always made welcome by the other ’truckers’ albeit they have much bigger lorries!


If I have meetings in London I will drive to the station and catch the King’s Cross train. Being on the two ACS boards as well as the Unilver Partners For Growth Panel, I tend to be in London at least one day a fortnight so I now know the journey quite well. It also gives me an hour to catch up with some sleep, and thankfully the train terminates at King’s Cross so I have no chance of missing my stop! I thoroughly enjoy my ACS work, particularly any Westminster meetings. Unfortunately I am no longer able to fulfil my dream of being an MP, but being on the ACS Board is a wonderful opportunity for political work. Over the past few years I have given evidence to both the Sentencing Advisory Panel and the Low Pay Commission and that was a fantastic experience. I have also had the opportunity to appear on both the TV and radio, but I must admit my looks are better suited to radio!


If my day is to be spent in the business I make the short journey to our head office, which is above the Slade End site at Chatteris. I share an office with my financial controller, Georgina, who does a great job of putting up with me. The day will involve meetings with team members or suppliers and usually the time flies by. We have an excellent relationship with suppliers and, accordingly, the meetings can be quite lengthy, particularly if we are discussing new products. I love innovation and as such will always trial new things and ideas. As the old Eskimo saying goes "If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes", and I am always keen to look ahead.


Our company is well known locally for getting involved in the community. There is seldom a day that goes by where we do not have a community activity going on and I try my best to attend every one. I particularly enjoy working with the schools and often take part in their classes or assemblies. I believe it is vital that the community members know me and feel able to interact accordingly. It is also an excellent way of getting feedback, good or bad.I am a school governor and parish councillor and both roles ensure I am involved in community activities wherever possible.


This year is our 150th anniversary and we have a very busy time ahead. I have just finished refitting my Ely site as a new-look Budgens and have put doors back on chillers. The store looks stunning and is the culmination of a wonderful team effort by all concerned. My days now are taken up with the project of building our new, greenfield site at Littleport, just North of Ely. Every day seems to have a different challenge and as such I am meeting architects, surveyors, construction managers and council officials (they are always a right laugh!)


Once home I spend the evening playing with the children who in turn teach me how to improve my computer skills (Emily is 10 and Joshua is nine). I then catch up on my emails, watch the news and fall asleep in the chair. I don’t have a job I have a way of life!




Jonathan James:


Name: Jonathan James

Company: James Graven and Sons Ltd

Job Title: Operations director

Other Positions: Vice chairman of ACS and NACS International Committee member

Career History: Banking, fresh produce trader and police

Greatest Achievement: Seeing my two children grow up

Tips for Business: Honesty, integrity and hard graft

Most Likely to say: How much? You are having a laugh!

Least likely to say: Step aside lads, it’s my round!

Other interests: Family, friends, nice holidays and Ipswich Town FC