Overall ranking: 13 (ranked 21 in 2010)
Contract catering ranking: 2 (ranked 2 in 2010)
Alastair Storey – Snapshot
As chairman and chief executive of the largest “independent” catering group in the UK, Alastair Storey has considerable clout in the food service market. His company, Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), is home to business and industry caterer BaxterStorey, Benugo, Holroyd Howe Independent (private education caterer),Caterlink (state sector education caterer), BaxterStorey Ireland and Scotland, and reception management service Portico. Despite the recession putting pressure on employers’ ability to provide restaurants and catering for their staff, the group continues to grow, with turnover for the 12 months ended 31 December 2010 up 19% to £362m.
Alastair Storey – Career guide
Alastair Storey started his career in 1975 as a trainee manager at P&O’s Sutcliffe Catering Services and rose to become managing director of Sutcliffe Catering South East. After Granada bought Sutcliffe in 1993 and Forte in 1996, Storey became managing director of the newly formed Granada Food Services division.
He went solo in September 2000, when he launched Wilson Storey with his former finance director Keith Wilson and landed a deal with Groupe Le Duff of France to roll out its La Brioche Dorée stores in the UK.
In December 2000 Wilson Storey merged with Wokingham-based Halliday Catering Services, which had grown to become the UK’s largest independent contract caterer since its formation in 1985 by Linda and George Halliday. In May 2001 Wilson Storey Halliday merged with Berkshire caterer Houston & Church, which had an annual turnover of £7m.
In 2004 Storey gained a strong foothold in the healthcare and education markets with the acquisition of £10m-turnover Caterlink in Kent, and in November 2004 Wilson Storey Halliday merged with BaxterSmith to become BaxterStorey, with William Baxter assuming the deputy chief executive role (which he has now relinquished for a non-executive role at the company).
In 2007 Storey pulled off his biggest deal to date with the purchase of Holroyd Howe and Benugo in a double deal that cemented the caterer as a viable alternative to the long established big four of Compass, Sodexo, Elior and Aramark.
Alastair Storey – What we think
The deal for Holroyd Howe and Benugo gave a truly national reach and depth to one of the strongest independent firms in a sector dominated until then by the big four of Compass, Sodexo, Aramark and Elior.
Although Storey has always found the label of being one of the newly constituted “big five” unflattering, due to what he sees as a different cultural approach at BaxterStorey, the journalistic shorthand did at least emphasise that its size in terms of turnover and scope had established the independent as a credible national alternative.
Combined with a commitment to sustainable business practices, such as sourcing only British meat and free-range eggs, and innovative training programmes, such as the Chef Academy, the success story shows no sign of ending.
Indeed, in April the business entered a new phase with Noel Mahony promoted to chief executive at BaxterStorey in recognition of his work at the business caterer, which saw last year’s turnover climb 15% to £240m, constituting 66% of the group’s total. Storey remains chairman of BaxterStorey and in his executive position at WSH, very much in charge. A reshuffling of other executive positions across the group means the business is ready for further development. Although this will come from across the board, education where in Storey’s own words, “we’ve got a relatively modest share of the market and we’d like to see that grow,” is on the menu. It would be a brave person that bets against him achieving his aim.
BaxterStorey website >>