Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Allister Richards, Mitie Catering

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Allister Richards, Mitie Catering

Overall ranking: 89 (NEW ENTRY)
Contract catering ranking: 14 (NEW ENTRY)

Allister Richards - Snapshot
Allister Richards is managing director of Mitie Catering, a FTSE 250 company offering catering services from within its facilities management division.

In the year to June 2012, the catering division secured new business worth more than £14m, consisting of both stand-alone catering contracts and business won as part of integrated FM deals.

New contracts include Diageo, WorldPay, the Office of Fair Trading, and the Cumbrian Collaboration which incorporates Sellafield and the NDA. The team has also expanded its longstanding relationship with Osborne Clark as well as retaining and extending existing contracts with Hallmark Cards, The Brewery and DAC Beachcroft LLP.

In the year to March 2012, revenues at the Mitie Group grew 5.9% to £2,002.5m (2011 - £1.891.4m). Operating profit before other items increased 7.2% to £111.2m (2011 - £104.2m)

Richards became managing director at Mitie Catering in April 2011. He joined from Sodexo Prestige, where he had been managing director England and Wales from 2004 to 2010. Prior to that, he had spent nearly seven years in the pub sector as investment manager at Spirit Group.

Richards has a degree in English from the University of East Anglia and an MBA from Henley Management College.

Allister Richards - What We Think
Richards has been good news for Mitie. In the year since he joined, the outsourcing services company has grown its catering business by 45%. Not bad during a recession.

One of the contract wins that encouraged this growth was the £80m deal with Diageo on a three plus two year basis at 70 sites. Richards is rightly proud of this achievement, citing it as a "leap of faith" for the company to transfer its longstanding relationship with its existing caterer and he attributes this success to the fact his team could understand Diageo's culture.

Richards has stated that the focus of his management and corporate style is to build on being open and approachable, non-corporate. "Our style and attitude isn't stuffy and highly commercial in our appetite for risk. The team we have in place is authentic - they're not pretending to be foodies."

The number of contract wins this year indicates that clients have bought into Mitie's approach. Besides Diageo, it has been a particularly strong period for Mitie's catering division, with new and retained contracts, including WorldPay and the Office of Fair Trading.

Under Richards' watch, Mitie has also bolstered its catering business with the acquisition of a 51% stake in caterer Creativevents for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition sees it add new clients to its portfolio, including Earls Court, Olympia and ExCel Exhibition Centres, Brooklands Motor Museum, National Army Museum and RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park Flower Shows.

Acquisition of Creative Events >>

Mitie grows by 45% >>

Mitie website >>

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