Tim Jones and Bill Toner, chairman and CEO of CH&Co Group, have expressed their support for the introduction of the National Living Wage.
Speaking at the Arena Face 2 Face interview on Wednesday (30 September), the duo were quizzed on a range of topics by ITN's Alastair Stewart, who has been involved with the annual foodservice and hospitality interview event for 14 years.
Jones said: "The National Living Wage is a fantastic piece of legislation. It will give us a few headaches as an industry that generally operates as a low margin business. Some will struggle to absorb the cost initially but it's important we invest in our people."
Toner added: "I think it's long overdue. We need to embrace it as an industry. It will be costly but it's important for the industry to find a solution to the problem."
This year's event, which was held at Lambeth Palace for the first time, started with heartfelt tributes to CH&Co founder Robyn Jones who passed away last week (21 September). She was described as a "groundbreaking, elegant, charming and overall remarkable business woman" by Stewart.
Her husband Tim Jones said: "Robyn could just see things; she had such an eye for detail. She would tell you if something wasn't right."
Toner added: "She was a formidable competitor and was never shy in stepping forward. She focused on clients, people and food. She was instrumental in pulling the masterplan of the merger together. She laid down ground rules and made it clear what she wanted."
Speaking about the merger between CH&Co and Host Catermasters, which took place earlier this year, Toner said: "It may sound clichéd but we knew that together we were going to be stronger."
The pair told attendees that the banks needed persuading for the deal to take place and that they were looking for confidence as well as numbers.
When asked if they were looking to consolidate or get rid of some of their brands in the future, Jones replied: "Brand is supreme. They are there for a purpose. There were specific intentions for them when they were created.
"At the moment they have a place and are thriving. Why would we change that? We have strong brands with strong people running them."
Toner added: "I can't say how many brands will still be here in five to ten years, but we are not just going to consolidate because people tell us it's the right thing to do."
The pair revealed the company hopes to achieve £300m in turnover within the next three to five years.