Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Noel Mahony and John Bennett, BaxterStorey

06 December 2012 by
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Noel Mahony and John Bennett, BaxterStorey

Overall ranking: 23 (Mahony ranked 47 in 2011, Bennett is a NEW ENTRY)
Contract caterer ranking: 3 (Mahony ranked 7 in 2011, Bennett is a NEW ENTRY)

Noel Mahony and John Bennett - Snapshot

Noel Mahony and John Bennett are co-chief executives of business and industry caterer BaxterStorey, which is not only the biggest brand, but also the engine room in terms of revenue for the wider interests of parent company, Westbury Street Holdings (owner of Benugo, Holroyd Howe Independent, Caterlink and Portico).

Over the past year the business and industry caterer has expanded into Europe, with new operations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. Along with other significant contract wins in the UK, such as RBS, Black Rock, Goldman Sachs and BBC Salford Quays, this expansion has ensured another strong year of growth. In the 12 months to 31 December 2011, turnover rose to £252m (from £240m in 2010). Operating profit rose to £17.2m, up £1.2m on 2010. It employs more than 5,000 staff.

Earlier this year, BaxterStorey relocated its London operation to bigger offices at London Wall, having outgrown its previous premises at Cannon Street.

Noel Mahony and John Bennett - Career guide

Noel Mahony's career in catering started in 1985 when he trained as a chef within the Trusthouse Forte Group. Fate brought him to the contract catering world and, joining Compass (via Granada Food Services), onto a series of senior management roles, where he ultimately led operations in Ireland then London and the South East. In 2002, he was named managing director of Compass-owned Baxter & Platts and in 2004 he left to join independent caterer Wilson Storey Halliday.

In 2004, BaxterSmith and Wilson Storey Halliday (WSH) revealed plans to merge and create a new significant independent player in the contract catering market. It saw Mahony named as joint managing director along with Mike Smith. The combined business has annual turnover of £87m.

Mahony won the Food Service Caterer Award at the 2009 Cateys, following in the footsteps of Storey and several other team members at WSH.

He was named as chief executive of BaxterStorey in April 2011 (a role that now also includes front of house specialist Portico) after a management reshuffle in the wake of William Baxter, co-founder and group deputy chief executive, ending his day-to-day involvement in favour of an ambassadorial role at the company.

He has recently managed the mobilisation of BaxterStorey's launch into Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and France.

John Bennett, formerly chief operating officer of WSH's education businesses Holroyd Howe and Caterlink, was appointed co-chief executive in May. He joined BaxterSmith in 2006 from his role as head of national accounts at Compass.

He spent six years in this role achieving 100% client retention while quadrupling turnover. He put his success down to attention to detail and the recruitment, retention and development of a fantastic team.

Bennett's earlier years included time working in leading hotels and event catering such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He also has an MBA and Diploma in Marketing to add to his credentials.

Noel Mahony and John Bennett - What we think

It may seem a bit crowded at the top from the outside, but Noel Mahony and John Bennett are proving already that two chiefs are better than one.

In the first six months of the year, BaxterStorey's turnover in England and Ireland grew by 5% and 15% respectively, but growth was strongest in Scotland, which saw a lift of 26%. BaxterStorey, which catered for around 20,000 journalists and broadcasters at the London Olympic Park's media centre, also saw notable contract wins this year, including RBS Group (£100m), British American Tobacco and Scottish Power.

On stepping up to the role of joint-chief executive Bennett pointed out that he had worked with Mahony for over 20 years and added: "I feel our complementary skills will drive our core business beliefs of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients prepared on-site by a well-trained team that provides fantastic service to our clients and customers."

Nevertheless, while they present a dynamic team, and while the BaxterStorey brand is the biggest in WSH, the direction of the group and by extension BaxterStorey remains with co-founder and WSH chairman Alastair Storey.

He has tasked the pair with overseeing the company's future expansion while retaining its core principles of staff development, fresh food, local sourcing and customer service - and they are already proving themselves more than fit for the task.

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 2011: Noel Mahony, BaxterStorey >>

The Caterer Interview - Noel Mahony >>

Noel Mahony named BaxterStorey chief executive in WSH reshuffle >>

BaxterStorey website >>

John Bennett named co-CEO >>

BaxterStorey banks £100m catering contract with RBS >>

End of year results, 2011 >>

Half year results 2012 >>

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