Bill Toner replaces Jerry Brand as boss at Host

Bill Toner replaces Jerry Brand as boss at Host

Bill Toner has been appointed chief executive at Host Contract Management, replacing founder Jerry Brand at the company's helm.

Brand has relinquished his managing director role at the firm he established in 2004 in order to concentrate on Caternet, his integrate catering management software business.

He will remain on the board as non-executive chairman - the role taken by Toner at the end of last year, which ended five years of speculation that the former Aramark boss would be joining Host.

The management reshuffle came about as a result of Toner's increasingly hands-on involvement in the business and Brand's decision to take his software to the marketplace.

Toner told Caterer that it was a considered decision. "Caternet is Jerry's baby, so it made sense for him to take over the running of it rather than find someone else to do it, particularly as I was getting involved with Host.

"Now we've made the decision for me to become chief executive and that means Host is mine really. He's going to do what he's doing. I trust him and he trusts me to get on with it."

Brand agreed, adding that he made a similar move with his first catering firm Russell & Brand in the late 1990s. "Tim Cookson [now of Litmus Partnership] came on board and ran the business for me while I stepped back and became the chairman," he explained.

"When Bill joined Host I was looking to see if he had got his mojo back, having been out on gardening leave for the last five years, which he certainly has. In spades I'd say.

"Different people are right for different times in a business's development, and this is the right time for Bill. I wanted a professional manager with the really great experience that he has."

Since joining Host last November, Toner has spent time visiting sites and clients across the company's portfolio. He said that he found a business that is well positioned for growth, but his immediate plans are to work closely with sales director Andrew Scott and operations director Deborah Homshaw to reaffirm the foundations on which he intends to build.

"We are developing our food academy and our training team to get our operations back to basics. The foundations are the catering managers and chefs and once we've got the resources in place to manage and motivate them the rest becomes easy," he said.

Two-Michelin-starred Gleneagles chef Andrew Fairlie was signed up earlier this year to train and mentor Host chefs. They will attend three-day training courses at Gleneagles as part of an initiative to inspire and improve their cooking skills as part of the partnership.

Host, which currently has around 86 contracts across the UK, turned a pre-tax profit of £412,000 in 2010, double that of the previous year, and margin fell slightly to £14.2m (£14.5m 2009).

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