Charles Boyd is chief executive of Chester Boyd, which he sold to contract caterer Charlton House in 2007. In a separate project, he has created a new company, Hamilton Boyd, to run the event catering at Northumberland House State Rooms, near Trafalgar Square in London. He spoke to Rosalind Mullen
Caterer Your new venture draws on expertise from Charlton House and its subsidiary Chester Boyd. Can you tell us more about the deal?
Charles Boyd I am retaining my role at Charlton House, but I've signed a 15-year lease on the state rooms at Northumberland House and have set up Hamilton Boyd to do the catering. Sales and promotion will be outsourced to Chester Boyd and back-of-house services, such as payroll and HR, will be outsourced to Charlton House. The name Hamilton Boyd highlights the kinship with Chester Boyd, but although there are crossover interests there is no legal connection. (Hamilton is a reference to the infamous lover of Lord Nelson, whose statue is in nearby Trafalgar Square.)
Caterer You're launching early in 2010. Are you worried about the recession?
CB It's a perfect time to launch as I believe we will be heading into an upturn early next year. There are two reasons why I believe that. First, we have been in a financial downturn for three years and stability is grinding the way forward. Second, although some people are suffering, in general people are OK, so at some stage they will stop panicking. If 18 months down the line nothing much has happened then it's safe to go back into the water. I also think things will get better in the run-up to the Olympics - by early summer 2012 there will be no recession.
Caterer Who else is involved and what level of business are you expecting?
CB I have put a significant investment into the new company, but I expect it to turn over £5m a year quite quickly and for this figure to rise considerably if I get the mix right. Adrian Brain, commercial director at Chester Boyd, is coming over to Hamilton Boyd in the same role and has also invested in the company. We already have three or four bookings worth £100,000 and we are in discussion regarding a big event for August 2012.
Caterer This is a big venue to fill. What will set your business apart?
CB Northumberland House is a historic classical building, but the nature of the rooms mean that it is flexible. For instance, it can host exams, conferences, film premieres and so on. The two biggest rooms, the Trafalgar Ballroom and the Northumberland Suite, seat 500 and 600 guests respectively, The Victoria Salon seats 80 and there are 10 smaller rooms. There is also a brasserie and a bar open to the public that will open this November. As the venue owner and the caterer we will operate more like a hotel and because we only have our own interests we can focus and be more competitive. We will also manage the meeting rooms for the Grand hotel, which is the main occupier of the building.