Foodservice Cateys 2016: Salesperson of the Year

20 October 2016
Foodservice Cateys 2016: Salesperson of the Year

Sponsored by Wilcox Burchmore

Simon Houston, Bartlett Mitchell

Having been instrumental in delivering the company's second successive year of record growth, Simon Houston is clearly highly thought of within Bartlett Mitchell. But, as well as his stunning sales achievements, his appetite to contribute elsewhere in the business and wider industry make him a salesperson who is well known and respected across the sector.

In a fiercely competitive market, Houston has achieved new business growth of 67% between 2013 and 2015 and is credited with growing turnover by 50% in 2015. This growth is all the more noteworthy given that a Market Perception Survey by EP in 2015 stated: ‘It will be very difficult to achieve strong organic growth in the next few years'.

Houston approaches every contract opportunity with an entrepreneurial mindset. He applies original thinking and questions norms, creating efficient contract management proposals that ultimately result in contract wins for Bartlett Mitchell. One such example is the business's high-profile first embassy wins. Having secured the Canadian High Commission contract, Houston followed it with a contract with the American Embassy ahead of its relocation to Nine Elms. At Friends Life (now Aviva), he transitioned the deal from a heavily subsidised staff restaurant to a commercial opportunity within eight months, against the backdrop of the Aviva takeover.

And retention rates are enviable. Some of Bartlett Mitchell's most prestigious and strategic contracts came up for renewal in 2014-15, including McGraw Hill, Viacom and Quintiles. Houston's tenacity, focus, work ethic and dedication saw all contracts retained. Between 2015 and 2016, a 98.2% retention rate was realised.

As well as being a commercial success, Houston is a nurturing manager. He developed a bid writer to become a bid manager, who was then nominated for an ACE Robyns award and successfully integrated the Inn or Out events sales team following the acquisition of this business in 2014.

Alongside his rational and structured approach, Houston uses his emotional intelligence to understand and get the best from his staff. He has superb interpersonal skills and manages the sales department by setting high expectations and using open communication to track and recognise results. As a result of his achievements with team development and contract wins, Houston has been promoted from business development director to sales director, taking on responsibilities beyond the immediate sales function.

He also runs the AGM and networking events, mentors five Bartlett Mitchell team members at various levels, and acts as chair for the heads of department meetings, which take place monthly.

Outside the business, Houston has been recognised as a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, attended numerous industry events and raised over £600 for Hospitality Action on a charity bike ride. What made him stand out was a clear desire to go above and beyond a pure sales role to add value throughout the business.

What the judges said

"Simon has delivered exceptional results this year while still finding the time to take an active role in developing other areas of the business, particularly in innovation and charity work."

Chris Chidley, Eurest

"Simon has clearly had a successful year in terms of sales wins, but what made him stand out were the areas in which he goes above and beyond."

Phil Roker, Vacherin


  • Simon Houston Bartlett Mitchell
  • Claire Long Holroyd Howe
  • Chris Reynolds Amadeus

Past winners

  • 2015 Chris Chidley Eurest
  • 2014 Lucy Wright Kings Place Events
  • 2013 Jonathan Davies Centerplate UK

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