Cateys 2022: Best Employer Award: Thomas Franks

05 July 2022 by
Cateys 2022: Best Employer Award: Thomas Franks

Thomas Franks wins Best Employer Award, sponsored by Harri

Thomas Franks is a privately owned, founder-led contract caterer with nearly 1,400 employees. The family-owned business was founded on the values of great food, creativity and people and has stood by this ethos as it has grown to over 160 locations in the B&I, independent school and care sector, reaching an annual turnover of nearly £60m pre-pandemic.

Over the past few years its focus has been on supporting its people, their families and communities, both financially and in relation to their health and wellbeing. Its people promise is to maintain confidence and trust, create loyalty, support retention and boost recruitment. The company actively recruited skilled staff into the business at a time when many were making redundancies, and achieved growth beyond the UK with the assistance of a dedicated recruitment manager.

Its employees wanted to make an impact on sustainability by achieving B Corp recognition, so a sustainability manager was employed alongside a director of nutrition and wellbeing, also driven by employee demand.

Meanwhile its annual internal Thomas Franks Awards generate feedback from clients and customers that is shared with the team. And all team members and suppliers are invited to the biannual company conference. Thomas Franks gained the Investors In People Silver Award during the pandemic and, through its inclusivity programme, it has partnered with Catch22, which works with vulnerable candidates and those facing barriers getting into the workplace, and Nemi Teas, a company providing support to refugees.

The Thomas Franks Foundation, founded in 2019 by Frank and Emma Bothwell, provides support to disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young adults in the UK and is a focal point for company fundraising.

In The Caterer's 2022 Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey the caterer demonstrated its initiatives to support employee wellbeing during lockdown with a Mental Health Academy, set up on the back of mental health first-aid training with the Burnt Chef Project.

The survey also showed overwhelmingly that its people are proud to work for Thomas Franks, with more than three-quarters of respondents giving the company a score of 10 in response to the statement: "I am proud to work here". One employee said: "Our large HR team provides access to support, personal development, counselling and an employee assistance programme. It's a company driven by its values and commitment to people, which I respect."

What the judges said

"An impressive array of people-centric initiatives drives this genuine and authentic culture. Thomas Franks is certainly on the front foot, setting an outstanding example of how to approach business in the current climate." – Andi Hirons

"Thomas Franks has gone above and beyond, not only for its people, but for the local community and charities too. A strong leadership culture and presence from the team with a robust focus on developing people. Love it!" – Paresh Vara

The shortlist

  • Aviator
  • Dakota Manchester
  • Genuine Dining Co
  • Old Stocks Inn, Stow-on-the-Wold
  • Thomas Franks
  • Valor Hospitality

The judges

  • Jo Harley, director, Purple Cubed
  • Andi Hirons, people director, the Grand Brighton
  • Steve Rockey, people director, Home Grown Hotels & Lime Wood Group
  • Paresh Vara, brand guest experience manager, PPHE
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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


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