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Business & Economy

Phileas Fogg co-founder Keith Gill looks back on career in new book

The co-founder of one of the North East’s most recognisable snack brands has written a book on his life and career.

Entrepreneur Keith Gill, who helped set up Phileas Fogg, has penned ‘Taking It Head On: Memoirs of a County Durham Miner’s Son’.

His memoirs are in two parts, with the first written during lockdown.

Looking back on his 70 years, Keith’s work focuses on the period of his life for which he is best known: Phileas Fogg.

Putting the County Durham town of Consett on the map, the brand, which promised customers ‘a taste of the world’, became a household name through TV advertising campaigns that included the fictional Consett International Airport and Punjab Airways.

A decade after founding the business, Keith – who recently featured in Channel 4 documentary ‘The Secret World of Crisps’ alongside former business affiliate Roger McKechnie – and his partners sold it in a multi-million-pound deal.

Reflecting on his book, Keith, who now runs The Old Post Office bed and breakfast in Lanchester, also County Durham, with wife Pauline, said: “I had thought about it for many years, and had actually done a fair bit of work on it in stages but never got round to completing it.

“During lockdown, when the bed and breakfast was forced to close, I had more spare time so decided to make it my project.

“At that stage it was something to keep me occupied and the plan was for the finished book to be something my family and I could enjoy.”

The book details Keith’s journey from his birth at Durham’s Dryburn Hospital, his childhood in villages across County Durham, and his school and college years.

In it, Keith, who counts well-known North East name Tudor Crisps on his CV, also relives his first steps into employment and being selected by betting company Ladbrokes for a six-week ‘schooling’ programme, which saw him finish third out of 200 recruits nationally and be put through a management training programme.

It also documents how, in 1977, Keith started at Peterlee’s Tudor Crisps, which he says was a ‘wow’ moment for it enabled him to discover marketing.

Keith worked for the company until 1982 when he left and the Phileas Fogg journey began.

“Penning my memoirs has been such a terrific experience,” he added.

“I am fortunate and blessed to have had some great support along the way, which has certainly helped me as it’s up there with the hardest things I’ve done.

“If my entrepreneurial journey can inspire and enthuse the next generation, then I will be even more proud to have helped.

“My proudest achievement, though, is having helped create over 400 jobs and livelihoods for families across both parts of my overall journey in my native North East.”