Alastair Storey, chief executive at the UK's largest independent contract caterer company WSH, has been named the most powerful and influential person in the UK hospitality industry.
Storey, whose WSH portfolio includes BaxterStorey](http://www.baxterstorey.com/) and [Benugo](http://www.benugo.com/), beat celebrity chef [Jamie Oliver](http://www.jamieoliver.com/) and Richard Solomons, chief executive at [InterContinental Hotels Group](http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/ihg/hotels/us/en/reservation) (IHG), to the top spot in the fifth *Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100*, our list of the 100 most influential people in hospitality.
The Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100, published in association with Caterer.com, recognises key players whose actions have the greatest impact, and ranks candidates on criteria ranging from direct power, proven record of financial success, innovation, future potential and their wider influence across the sector.
This year marks the first time that a contract caterer has clinched the top spot, and comes on the back of another excellent year for the WSH group, which also includes education specialists [Caterlink](http://www.caterlinkltd.co.uk/) (state) and [Holroyd Howe](http://www.holroydhowe.co.uk/) (independent), as well as front of house services business [Portico](http://www.portico.co.uk/).
A string of significant contract wins such as [RBS](http://www.rbs.co.uk) (£100m), [Goldman Sachs](http://www.goldmansachs.com/) (£20m) and [Black Rock](http://www.blackrock.co.uk/) (£12m), coupled with expansion into Europe with new operations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway, are key indicators of the clout that Storey's business has developed in the last 12 months. Annual turnover has grown to £406m for the 12 months to 31 December 2011 (from £363m in 2010) and another £70m is expected to be added at the end of this year.
Commenting on his new position at the top of the 100 list, having ranked at 13 in 2011, Storey said it's brilliant for all the teams in the company and a great credit to the business.
"We've got a fabulous industry, right across the whole of hospitality and tourism, and there are so many great opportunities for people. I'd like to see this industry get more recognition for the contribution it makes to the economy and to promoting Britain.
"For many years contract catering has been the Cinderella sector and we're not. This is a ray of sunshine for us and I hope it encourages young people to consider it."
In at number two is Jamie Oliver, who has fallen from the number one spot for the first time in recent years. While his philanthropic activities in the areas of school meals and healthy eating continue to make media waves, Oliver is no less busy building his burgeoning business empire.
The [Jamie's Italian](http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/) chain is now 35-strong, including five in Asia, and his latest restaurant brand [Union Jacks](http://www.unionjacksrestaurants.com/) now has four outlets. These high street names, alongside London barbecue-grill restaurant [Barbecoa](http://www.barbecoa.com/) and event catering business Fabulous Feasts have all helped to make the chef worth £150m, according to the [Sunday Times 2012 Rich List](http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/richlist/).
At the same time, he has guided the growth of IHG's other brands, including [InterContinental](http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/home/), [Crowne Plaza](http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/crowneplaza/hotels/gb/en/reservation) and [Holiday Inn](http://www.holidayinn.com/), in existing and new markets and the company now boasts more guest rooms than any other hotel company in the world.
Self-taught chef, restaurateur, author and broadcaster Heston Blumenthal came in at number four, falling one place from last year. His focus on the appliance of science to the art of cooking has propelled him to international stardom, with four restaurants in his portfolio.
These include his three-Michelin-starred flagship Fat Duck in Bray, and two one-starred dinning rooms - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in London and the Hind's Head, also in Bray.
This year also sees a woman enter the top five for the first time. Jill McDonald, chief executive and president of McDonald's UK and president, northern division, McDonald's Europe, has proved her mettle by helping to spearhead the revival of a brand that has come under heavy criticism from health groups and charities.
Changes to the menus, £225m spent revamping restaurants and 13 new sites opening this year have all helped sales in the UK to grow every quarter for nearly five years. With sales in the UK up 5%, McDonald is certainly bucking the global slump of 3% for the company.
THE CATERER AND HOTELKEEPER 100
The Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 is compiled by a judging panel of industry experts and senior journalists from Caterer and Hotelkeeper. For full profiles of every business leader featured on this year's list visit: www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/100.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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