Barry Connolly has been chosen as The Irish Times Business Person of the Month for April, an award run in association with Bank of Ireland.
Connolly is the majority owner of the Fulfil protein-rich nutrition bar business, which was sold in April to family-owned confectionery giant Ferrero for a sum reported to be in the region of €160 million.
It was Connolly who spotted the gap in the Irish market back in 2016 for a high-protein “impulse purchase” bar that, crucially, was aimed at the broader consumer market, not just gym users. And it was he that pushed for its aggressive expansion into the UK where it could prove its global brand value to potential suitors.
Originally developed in house at his Richmond Marketing Group, it was spun out into a separate business and is now selling a million cases a year in both Ireland and Britain. It is also selling in the Netherlands, Belgium and, to a smaller extent, Australia and the Middle East.
It was those international ambitions that saw Connolly and his team opt to tap keen buyer interest, in the end choosing Ferrero over a number of others, including private equity suitors.
Fulfil is far from a flash in the pan for Connolly, who brought Red Bull to Ireland among a range of high-profile drinks and snacks brands, as well as Heelys children’s roller-shoes.
And he will not be cutting his ties entirely with Fulfil as he retains control of the brand’s North America business where it has partnered with local snacks behemoth, Hershey.