Food Service Caterer award 2007 - sponsored by First Choice Coffee
It's taken all of this year's Food Service Catey winner's management skills and considerable experience to craft two very different catering firms into one successful whole. Testament to Alastair Storey's foresight and patience, BaxterStorey, now the largest independent food service caterer in the UK market, last year achieved turnover of £145m. With more than 300 contracts and 4,500 staff, as well as a listing in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100, the company has big ambitions.
The new business was formed in November 2004 from the combination of Wilson Storey Halliday and BaxterSmith, and the first 12 months were not easy with six directors at the top. Yet despite predictions to the contrary there was no falling-out or boardroom bust-up among the directors, and Storey now heads a business that knows exactly what it is and where it wants to be.
Storey has more than 30 years' experience in the sector, starting in 1975 as a trainee manager at P&O's Sutcliffe Catering Services. This was followed by a stint as managing director of Sutcliffe Catering South East and, after Granada bought Sutcliffe in 1993 and Forte in 1996, managing director of the newly formed Granada Food Services division before striking out solo in 2000 with Wilson Storey. You could argue that a successful result was a safe bet and a Catey was long overdue.
Certainly our judging panel felt this year's winner had answered the questions posed by the merger. Arena's Andy Kemp put into words many of the judges' thoughts when he said of the company post merger: "With many big deals in the past you've always lost key personnel as a result. But Alastair sits over the business and clearly communicates the company vision while still finding time to nurture individual talent and make money. Thanks to him the board remained solid."
Also, while it had been in place before the union, the judges praised the involvement of Storey in the company's chef-training programme. Run in partnership with two-Michelin-starred chef John Campbell at the Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire, it allows BaxterStorey chefs to train alongside the award-winning hotel's brigade to sharpen their skills and learn to work smarter.
As one judge summed up: "Storey has done everything he said he would with the business and more. It's an awesome venture that's respected by its rivals." Another added: "At the start I feared they had gone too far too fast, but they've come through that now and I expect even bigger things from the company in the next 12 months."
Tim Cookson, chairman, the Litmus Partnership
Jonathan Doughty, group managing director, Coverpoint Catering Consultancy
Anthony Horton, chief executive officer, Tricon Foodservice Consultancy
Robyn Jones, chief executive, Charlton House Catering
Andy Kemp, chairman, Arena
Mike Smith, joint managing director, BaxterStorey
Chris Stern, managing director, Stern Consultancy
Tim West, chief executive, Lexington Catering
â- Rick Holroyd and Nick Howe, joint managing directors, Holroyd Howe
â- Alastair Storey, chief executive, BaxterStorey