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The Caterer

Alastair Storey

12 May 2005
Alastair Storey

Overall ranking: 22

Contract caterers ranking: 4

Snapshot

Alastair Storey is the chief executive of BaxterStorey, the UK's fifth largest contract caterer and its biggest independent player. It was formed in November 2004 from the merger of Berkshire-based Wilson Storey Halliday with Buckinghamshire-based BaxterSmith. Storey's role is to lead the company's strategic development.

The company, which began trading in January 2005, has an annual turnover of £105m (projected to rise to £115m this year). It employs 2,400 people across more than 230 contracts in the UK and Ireland which focus on the business and industry sector. Clients include Barclays, DaimlerChrysler, Marks & Spencer, Nokia and Selfridges.

Career guide
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 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-based 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 Cater Link in Kent. In November, Wilson Halliday Storey merged with BaxterSmith to become BaxterStorey.

What we think
Storey has clocked up more than 30 years in the contract catering arena. His leadership qualities came to the fore at Sutcliffe, where he started new business units, created new market sectors and increased profits. As managing director of Granada Food Services, he almost doubled its turnover to £920m.

His solo career has been marked by some audacious acquisitions that, in four years, have left him in charge of the UK's fifth largest contract caterer.

Within months of forming Wilson Storey, he merged with the UK's largest independent player, Halliday Catering Services. This deal added 90 contracts, 1,000 staff and a £23m annual turnover to the group. Wilson Storey Halliday started life with a £25m turnover and in 2003 scooped the Daily Telegraph and Sage Business Award for Fastest Growing Business.

"This merger gives us sufficient scale and resources to deal with all shapes and sizes of accounts," Storey told Caterer in 2004. "We can compete with the big companies and yet we will still be more flexible and pliant." He forecasts growth of 10% in the first year.

Storey is now part of a formidable team of six directors with over a hundred years' combined experience. Three have won Catey Food Service Caterer of the Year awards - deputy chief executive William Baxter in 1996 (for Baxter & Platts), human resources director Linda Halliday in 2003 and managing director Mike Smith in 2004 (for BaxterSmith).

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