As general counsel of Greggs, Jonathan Jowett had little choice but to wade into the pasty tax scandal.
The furore began in March 2012, with Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement, detailing how all food – excluding bread – heated to above air-ambient temperature and meant to be eaten in or near the shop or restaurant would be subject to 20 per cent VAT. The news was disastrous for bakers and hit Greggs’ share price immediately.
Greggs soon mobilised Jowett, who began canvassing local MPs to get a meeting with David Gauke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury. Jowett eventually won his meeting and, along with Greggs’ finance director, helped present their alternative plan – aimed at collecting tax without hurting bakers – to Gauke. Meanwhile, Jowett was helping to arrange a march of bakers, gather petition signatures and draft a formal response to the pasty tax. On 28 May, Jowett and his team discovered that they had been successful – the Government had revised its proposals.
In addition to his efforts on the pasty tax, Jowett has also done the legal wrangling for some of Greggs’ most exciting initiatives. In early 2012 he oversaw Greggs’ first franchise deal with Moto Hospitality to introduce shops at motorway service stations, and a deal to sell products wholesale to Iceland. The final scheme that Jowett oversaw, which also made national headlines, was the 12-week trial with the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes to supply Greggs goods to members of the armed forces stationed in Germany.