Sir Francis Mackay, the architect of the modern Compass Group, is backing a new team of industry heavyweights who are poised to make a spectacular return to contract catering, Caterer has learnt.
Mackay, who led the acquisition of Compass from Grand Metropolitan in 1987 and floated the company on the London Stock Market in 1988, left the world's largest caterer in February 2006 with a pension pot worth £15.76m.
He is now the figurehead of a new caterer, to be called Graysons Hospitality Associates (and Graysons Restaurants), and has recruited Philip Nash, the former head of Compass Group's fine-dining arm, Restaurant Associates (RA), as chairman.
Graysons, which is believed to take its name from an old and now-defunct hospitality brand, was registered at Companies House last July with an office in Weybridge, Surrey.
The company secretary is Ronald Morley, who was the former company secretary for Compass. Ian Summers, previously sales director at Catermasters and briefly with Avenance, has joined Graysons as sales director and Chris Pearce, who worked under Nash at RA, is operations director.
Rowena Edwards, who was managing director of Compass's ESS division and held a centralised sales role before leaving the company recently, has also been consistently linked with Graysons. Trevor Briggs, most recently interim chief executive of Compass, is also believed to be in the frame.
Nick Thomas, who left his role as Compass commercial director before Christmas, has also been linked with the new business.
Graysons is believed to be targeting clients in the business and industry market. Industry observers believe a takeover of an existing caterer will be the preferred route into market. The company was thought to have been in advanced talks late last year with a medium-sized contract caterer, but speculation suggested a price couldn't be agreed and the takeover was scrapped at the eleventh hour.
By Chris Druce
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