One of the most popular figures on New Covent Garden Market passed away on 12 January
Damian Fowler, managing director of New Covent Garden Market wholesaler Gilgrove, has died at the age of 50.
Born on 3 September 1973, Fowler grew up in Bexley, Kent. On leaving school, he spent some time travelling the world, before coming back to London in his early 20s and joining the family business the C&C group.
He started in the pavilion at New Covent Garden Market, then alongside father Peter, he moved to launch the firm’s business at New Spitalfields Market when it relocated to Leyton. After a successful spell in east London, he returned to NCGM and eventually took over the reins of Gilgrove, as Peter retired and the multi-centre business was united under one banner in Nine Elms.
In 2012, Fowler took a break from the business to fight a first bout of cancer, but he was back in the fold quickly after his recovery and continued to drive forward one of Buyers Walk’s most respected firms.
In November 2023, aware of his failing health, Fowler made the decision to close Gilgrove rather then relocate to the new Buyers Walk. The business had been owned by the Fowler family for 37 years.
A people person
Fowler loved the market and the people in it and cherished the camaraderie, friendship and support. He is known to have truly enjoyed his work and the colleagues he worked with. He was also very proud to be on the executive team of the Covent Garden Tenants Association (CGTA) and over the last decade had played an integral role in the association’s work around the redevelopment programme.
Outside the market, his overriding passion was for cars, predominantly classic and sport cars. He owned several and loved travelling and touring in them. He was also a very good skier and would indulge this passion as often as work allowed, hitting the slopes with friends and family.
Above all, Fowler was a family man and the time he loved most was spent with his wife Jess and their children Finlay and Erin. Jess said: “Damian left his life too early. He wasn’t done. He was authentically and genuinely the greatest man I have known and I am grateful to have had him as my man.
“Thankfully he had very few regrets and instead was full of love and happiness for the life he lived. Finlay, Erin and I will hold his love, compassion and zest for a life well lived with us as his legacy.”
Fowler’s sister Kelly works at The Menu Partners, having worked for the family business for several years, and brother Lawrence also spent a number of years with the family firm. He added: “I’ve lost my best friend and the most incredible brother. He has looked after me all my life and I’ll be lost without him. The support from the market has been incredible. As it did when our dad died, the market has shown its strength, care, love and community for us.”
Tragically, Fowler died within a year of his father.
CGTA chairman Gary Marshall said the market community is devastated to have lost a great friend and colleague. “Damian was a friend to us all, a phenomenal market man and possibly the nicest and most decent man I have ever known. He was hugely dedicated, skilled and passionate and loved being part of the fruit and vegetable industry and the market. I will be forever grateful for the immense hard work, commitment and support he gave the CGTA on behalf of all of us, and me in my role as chairman.
“Damian was like a younger brother to me and I’m devastated that he’s left us way too soon. I want to send deepest condolences, sorrow and love to his mum Chrissy, wife Jess, children Finlay and Erin and all the Fowler family. The market community is here to support you.”
Jo Breare, general manager at Covent Garden Market Authority, added: “Damian was one of the nicest people you could hope to meet - always engaging, genuine and an absolute gentleman, just like his dad. He was a credit to his family, his firm and New Covent Garden Market.
“He was also a brilliant wholesaler who knew the industry inside out and understood the needs of his supplier and customer bases so well. His passing is a huge loss to the market community and he will be very sorely missed by us all, including me personally.”
Damian Fowler’s funeral will take place on 7 February at Honor Oak Crematorium, starting at 11.30am and the wake is at The Crown and Greyhound in Dulwich Village, from 12.45pm onwards. Click on this link to register your attendance, as the family has kindly requested advance notice of numbers.