Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Ben and Hugo Warner, Benugo

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Ben and Hugo Warner, Benugo

Overall ranking: 73 (ranked 90 in 2010)

Contract catering ranking: 9 (ranked 10 in 2010)

Ben and Hugo Warner - Snapshot

Brothers Ben and Hugo Warner are the founders of Benugo, which started life as a series of high-street stores but now encompasses restaurants and concessions in some of the world's largest and most respected corporate organisations and public spaces, such as the British Film Institute and the Victoria & Albert museum. It currently has six high-street shops; catering operations at nine museums and castles; full-service restaurants, including the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in London's Hyde Park and Oxford's Ashmolean Dining Room; a delivery kitchen in Bermondsey; and serves corporates such as Pfizer, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. There's heritage as well with a seven-year £35m mulit-site deal that includes Edinburgh and Stirling castles signed last year. Since its acquisition by Westbury Street Holdings (WSH) in 2007 turnover at Benugo has doubled, from £13m to £26m at the end of 2009 to £36m in 2010.

Ben and Hugo Warner - Career guide

Ben and Hugo Warner founded Benugo in 1998 with a site in London's Clerkenwell. Ben Warner is a chef who has worked for Raymond Blanc at Maison Blanc and learnt his trade in the South of France cooking on private yachts from 1983 to 1985. In 1990 he founded sandwich bar chain Harry Masons and from 1995 became the original franchisee of Pret A Manger, overseeing three sites. Hugo worked as sous chef to Henry Harris at Harvey Nichols before joining David Gleave at Winecellars where he became on-trade marketing manager for Enotria Winecellars.

In 2006 reports suggested the company was looking at floating on the Alternative Investment Market, having already netted high-profile clients such as Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers and UBS, but in the end the Warners ditched the idea and later became part of WSH.

Ben and Hugo Warner - What we think

At what must now be the rather large boardroom table of Benugo owner WSH, the Warner brothers are said to favour a more casual style than their catering peers. Certainly, Benugo's success to date has been the combination of a restaurateur's eye for detail and a chameleon-like ability to fit in perfectly in any location provided, be it modern or historic, adapting the offer to suit, from formal restaurant to grab-and-go, all with colour, verve and humour.

In an industry often looking for the next identikit idea to roll out to hundreds of units, it's easy to see why Benugo has found its place among clients looking for something different. Of course, since joining WSH in 2007, the Benugo offer has had the extra selling point of considerable resources and financial backing, making it an even safer bet for clients ranging from City types to museum and leisure customers.

The backing of WSH has certainly helped Benugo step up to a whole new level with a £25m five-year deal with the Science Museum in London

Ben and Hugo Warner's ranking in the 2010 100 >>

Benugo wins £20m deal with national Museums Scotland >>

Benugo website >>

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