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Phil Hooper, Sodexo
The enormously popular Phil Hooper has spent his career working for one business, while also spreading his passion for hospitality throughout the sector and beyond.
Early in his career, as sales director for Gardner Merchant, Hooper was part of the management buyout team from Forte in 1992. By 1995, following the merger, the newly allied Gardner Merchant and Sodexho business formed the largest contract caterer in the UK, only to be supplanted by Compass's £589m acquisition of Eurest International later that year. In 2000, the company changed its name to Sodexo, and Hooper played a large part in rebranding the company in 2008.
While at Sodexo, he championed the launch of the Healthwise website, which focuses on the benefits of making healthy choices. Indeed, raising awareness of nutrition and the benefits of a balanced diet is one of Hooper's main priorities - in 2014 Sodexo partnered with the Outward Bound Trust charity to launch the Health and Wellbeing Challenge, which saw almost 150 students take part in a number of workshops to encourage good eating and exercise.
Hooper was also the driving force behind the creation of the Sodexo Stop Hunger initiative from its inception in 2005. It aims to tackle hunger and promote healthy lifestyles among young people, while helping them to develop life skills. In 2013, it served 2.9 million meals across 25 countries, and raised more than £1.6m with 30,000 employee volunteers on hand.
He is a committed supporter of the hospitality sector at large too, and among his many other commitments, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality; a member of the Business Services Association chair- man's committee; chair of the Foodservice Management group at the British Hospitality Association, and a patron of industry charity Hospitality Action. Hooper has also supported the development of young chefs, working with the Springboard Charity.
Alongside charitable causes, he led Sodexo's engagement with both government depart- ments and non-governmental organisations, such as the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency. He was a member of the government's Public Health Responsibility Deal alongside government officials, the Food and Drink Federation and the British Retail Consortium.
It's no coincidence, then, that he was described by the judges as steadfast and committed when he was awarded the Foodservice Caterer Award at the 2011 Cateys. That commitment led to him being appointed brand and communications director at Sodexo.
When Hooper announced his departure from Sodexo, Neil Murray, formerly regional chair of Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: "Phil has been an outstanding ambassador for Sodexo, and the industry as a whole. He has been involved in all aspects of the business and has made a significant contribution to the success of the company and its transformation. I'd like to thank him for all he has done and wish him every success and happiness for the future."
- 2015 Robyn and Tim Jones CH&Co Group
- 2014 Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent Leon Restaurants
- 2013 David Mulcahy Sodexo
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