by Gaby Huddart
David Jenkinson, former managing director of contract caterer The Catering Guild, has quit Sutcliffe along with three fellow ex-Catering Guild directors to set up a new company.
The move comes less than six months after Sutcliffe bought The Catering Guild from tobacco and spirits giant Gallaher for £5.5m, bringing 115 contracts with annual turnover of £15m to the company.
At the time of the purchase Sutcliffe said it would continue to use The Catering Guild name "for the foreseeable future", while Mr Jenkinson was retained to head its contracts in England.
However, Mr Jenkinson told Caterer he felt the nature of The Catering Guild business had changed since the takeover and he had found it impossible to stay with Sutcliffe.
"I left by mutual agreement and with no acrimony," he said. "But it was clear from day one that we were destined not to grow further as a business within Sutcliffe, and after building up the business for eight years I couldn't stay any longer."
The new company headed by Mr Jenkinson, called Restaurants at Work, would aim to continue in the tradition of The Catering Guild, he explained.
"I am trying to recreate The Catering Guild as a minimum standard and make the new company even better," said Mr Jenkinson. "We are going for top-of-the-market, blue-chip, corporate HQ buildings as our target clients and we will offer them a personalised, prestige service and something different.
"There is a need in the market-place for small companies as an alternative to the giants to offer clients something individual," he added.
The company will concentrate on building business in London and the South along the M4 corridor and has set a target of 100 contracts within five years. Initially, these will have to be new clients as Restaurants at Work is legally barred from taking over any ex-Catering Guild contracts for several months.
The other three ex-Catering Guild directors who have left to join Restaurants at Work are Mick Jones, Helen Pezaro and John Dicey.