Cateys 2022: Foodservice Caterer Award: Frank Bothwell, Thomas Franks

05 July 2022 by
Cateys 2022: Foodservice Caterer Award: Frank Bothwell, Thomas Franks

Frank Bothwell of Thomas Franks wins Foodservice Caterer Award, sponsored by Diversey

In 2005 Frank Bothwell launched a contract catering company founded on the values of great food, creativity and a focus on people. Fast-forward 17 years and Thomas Franks is a leading international catering company that has managed to grow while keeping those values firmly at the centre of the business.

Pre-pandemic, Thomas Franks had reached an annual turnover of nearly £60m, delivering contracts in both education and business and industry, with clients across the UK as well as in Malta and Portugal.

As founder and chief executive Bothwell remains at the heart of the business he launched with his wife, Emma, maintaining the family ethos that it has been built on while it expands into new areas. One such area has been the launch of Thomas Franks London last year, a new B&I catering division aimed at providing clients with an agile service, headed by managing director Paul Hurren running a team in the capital. Since its launch the division has won significant contracts and engaged the services of Tom Aikens as a consultant.

Though not immune to the pressures of the pandemic, Thomas Franks was insulated somewhat through its education contracts. It also stayed close to its people and in 2020 was reaccredited with the Investors in People Silver Award, underlining its commitment to the right blend of talent, motivation and leadership. Feedback within the report demonstrated a high level of trust in the leadership of the business. Bothwell was described as an inspirational leader, whose people-centric style of leadership has filtered through the business.

Meanwhile, at the onset of Covid, Bothwell shifted the focus of the company to help combat food poverty while also providing a positive outlet for Thomas Franks employees to make a difference. Since its launch the Feeding Communities initiative has worked with over 155 charities to provide more than 1.2 million fresh, healthy and nutritious meals to those in need. Bothwell is determined to continue to develop this work and has since co-founded Surplus to Purpose (SToP) with the intention of reducing food waste across the catering industry.

And the environmental focus doesn't stop there. Bothwell has also spearheaded a plan for Thomas Franks to achieve carbon-neutral status and ensure the business is environmentally sound in all its locations and activities. To that end this year it has been reaccredited for ISO14001 and is on track to achieve B Corp status.

An operator with a considerable conscience and a firm focus on his people, Bothwell deserves his place among the illustrious list of Foodservice Caterer Award winners.

What the judges said

"Frank was a strong entry and for me a clear winner, due to the way he has grown the business through a tough period as well as breaking into new markets and geographies." – Phil Roker

"Frank has built a very different kind of catering company, where although it's clearly a profitable business, doing good sits at its heart. His vision has achieved the objective of supporting the less fortunate in our society." – Chris Stern

The shortlist

  • Frank Bothwell, Thomas Franks
  • Paul Robottom, Signature Dining
  • Paul Williams, Eurest

The judges

  • Allister Richards, chief operating officer, CH&Co
  • Chris Durant, senior consultant, Litmus Partnership
  • Ronan Harte, managing director, Holroyd Howe
  • Phil Roker, managing director, Vacherin
  • Chris Stern, managing director, Stern Consultancy
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