THE WINNER: Noel Mahony, BaxterStorey Sponsored by: Cadbury
This year's food service Catey winner joins an impressive stable of past winners at BaxterStorey and the wider WSH Group.
Noel Mahony, managing director of BaxterStorey, has been instrumental in the phenomenal development of the independent that has transformed itself into a credible alternative to the larger contract caterers that dominate the sector.
When Mahony assumed the role of managing director at the contract caterer five years ago, after its creation through the merger of Wilson Storey Halliday and BaxterSmith, BaxterStorey had annual sales of £87m. Last year its turnover was £215m.
Mahony, for his part, is credited with playing a significant role in this sales success as well as helping gain prestigious contracts such as Barclays Bank, Unilever and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Currently, Mahony runs a portfolio of businesses that represent more than 60% of BaxterStorey's business and industry portfolio, worth £120m.
He has also championed BaxterStorey's Chef Academy, established BaxterStorey Ireland in 2006, and helped Benugo (acquired by WSH Group in late 2007) double sales from £13m to £26m.
This year's Food Service Caterer winner has more recently taken a lead on working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and its Healthier Workplace Meals initiative, of which BaxterStorey was one of the five founding caterers. In April, a year into the project, the FSA said: "Millions of employees across the UK are now enjoying healthier workplace meals."
And, despite tough times, BaxterStorey has continued to compete for and win new business this year, including deals worth a total of £10.5m in annual turnover at the Department for Business, vehicle manufacturer Fiat Group, cruise operator Carnival and law firm Irwin Mitchell.
Judge Peter Backman said Mahony "embodied hospitality", which is why he was this year's winner. "He's a great outgoing character and cares about giving his customers the best possible service," said Backman. "I also gather that he is an excellent manager."
Food service consultant Chris Stern said: "Noel could be seen as one of the pioneers of BaxterStorey's operational model, in that he was their original managing director, taking operational control of a large proportion of their business. His positive, professional and relentlessly cheerful approach to managing the business has made a significant contribution to BaxterStorey's excellent sales and retention record." Stern added that Mahony had played an important part in working with Ben and Hugo Warner after the Benugo-WSH merger.
Last year's Food Service Caterer Award winner Kate Martin from Brookwood Partnership was also left in no doubt that a deserving successor had been found. "I think Noel is a worthy winner, as he clearly demonstrates a solid, successful career in the contract catering business and has earned an admired reputation for building sales and retaining business," she said.
- Noel Mahony, managing director, BaxterStorey
- Ian Sarson, executive director, specialist markets, Compass Group UK and Ireland
- Mike Sunley, managing director, Lexington Catering
- Peter Backman, managing director, Horizons
- Robyn Jones, chief executive officer, Charlton House Catering
- Kate Martin, managing partner, the Brookwood Partnership
- Christopher Stern, managing director, Stern Consultancy
- Alastair Storey, chief executive, BaxterStorey
- Tim West, chief executive, Lexington Catering