Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Robyn Jones and Tim Jones, CH&Co

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Robyn Jones and Tim Jones, CH&Co

Overall ranking: 39 (ranked 54 in 2010)

Contract catering ranking: 5 (ranked 5 in 2010)

Robyn Jones and Tim Jones - Snapshot

Chief executive/co-founder and chairman of CH&Co respectively, husband-and-wife team Robyn and Tim Jones have been busy. In fact since starting the business in the 1990s with a deal to cater for Guide Dogs for the Blind they've never really been anything but. Now the business is a £75m turnover one employing nearly 2,000 people at 140 sites with recent client additions including the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace, The Lord Mayor of London, as well as the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Robyn and Tim Jones - Career guide

Robyn Jones, who was born in 1961, started as a graduate trainee for GrandMet Catering (now Compass) in 1981, rising to chef-manager at a private school in Suffolk by 1983. She then spent two years with Gardner Merchant as catering manager for two big London clients before serving as catering advisory officer for the Potato Marketing Board from 1985 to 1987.

She spent the next year with High Table (now Avenance, part of Elior UK) as operations manager for 12 directors' dining room contracts. From 1988 to 1990 Jones worked for Compass, first as operations manager, then senior operations manager.

Jones then took the role of business development manager at Gazeway Catering, a subsidiary of construction company Higgs & Hill. After being made redundant she set up Charlton House Catering Services in July 1991.

In 2007 the firm made its first acquisition, high-end caterer Chester Boyd.

In May 2010, now operating under the parent company name of CH&Co, the firm divided into five specialist divisions: the Charlton House brand focuses on staff catering and the business and industry sector; Lusso provides fine-dining services in the City of London and beyond; Chester Boyd, which was set up by Charles Boyd and acquired by Charlton House in 2007, operates in London's livery halls and private venues; while Ampersand looks after the catering at iconic venues such as the Law Society, the Royal Institute of British Architects and London Zoo. It's The Agency, which was part of Chester Boyd, was relaunched at the time as a venue-finding service covering the entire business.

Tim Jones trained as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse and was financial controller of Marvel Comics between 1986 and 1990.

By the time CH&Co began he was financial director of RWS, one of Europe's largest technical translation companies, until relinquishing this role in 2000 to concentrate full-time on CH&Co.

This April Robyn Jones was named as one of the top women in the hospitality and leisure sector by Women 1st. This came after a top ten place in Growing Business magazines top UK female entrepreneurs list.

Another entry in the Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (formerly the 100) can only be read as an endorsement of their current strategy. After a period of holding steady, their decision to reshape the business with an eye on putting in a structure to support further growth in 2010 proved there was plenty of ambition left for the Jones's who are likely to be hard to keep up with. Since hitting the big time with a breakthrough deal to cater at Sony's headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey, the duo have skilfully guided CH&Co through sometimes choppy waters and several recessions, and look well placed to prosper as conditions improve.

The business today is - excluding, perhaps, BaxterStorey - the only independent of a size that can mix it with the bigger boys who dominate the sector. If that sounds like a big statement it was backed up this May with Ampersand nabbing the £60m Royal Historic Palaces public catering deal from - notably - Elior's Digby Trout and Benugo (part of Westbury Street Holdings, owner of BaxterStorey).

This win after the reorganisation of the group and the strong executive team - comprising Caroline Fry, Alison Tyler, Trevor Jones and Alison Gilbert - suggests the coming years are full of promise for the revitalised group.

Robyn Jones and Tim Jones' ranking in the 2010 100 >>

CH&Co launches reception services business Via360 >>

CH&Co awarded Investors in People's highest accolade >>

Roby Jones and Royal chef Mark Flanagan recognised in New Year's Honours >>

The Caterer Interview: Robyn and Tim Jones >>

CH&Co website >>

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