The Hot Scots Power 40: Chris Robinson and Mark Miller, Heritage Portfolio

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Chris Robinson and Mark Miller, Heritage Portfolio

Ranking: 22

Chris Robinson is the chairman of Edinburgh-based corporate hospitality and event caterer Heritage Portfolio, while Mark Miller is its executive director.

The company was created in October 2002 through the merger of two event caterers - Heritage Hospitality, which Robinson had launched in the January, and Portfolio Catering, which was founded by Miller in 1993.

Key clients include: The Signet, Hopetoun House, Dalmeny House, The Palace of Holyrood House, The Royal College of Surgeons, The Royal College of Physicians, The National Museums of Scotland, Mansfield Traquair, National Gallery of Scotland, Royal Scottish Academy, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Dean Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scone Palace, Merchants Hall, Assembly Rooms, Musselburgh Racecourse, Falkirk Wheel, The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The company recently marked its 10th birthday by signing two contracts worth £10m that extended its remits with Mansfield Traquair and Lennoxlove House. It has also signed a five-year deal to extend its inhouse catering and events with Hopetoun House.

Among its many awards, it has won Chamber of Commerce Scottish Business of the Year Award 2004, CIS independent caterer of the year 2010 and Investors in People in 2007.

Chris Robinson and Mark Miller - Career guide

In 1978, Chris Robinson founded Wheatsheaf Catering, specialising in high-quality banqueting restaurants, visitor attractions and sporting events. By 1996, when he sold it to Gardner Merchant, the company had 20 contracts and was the biggest independent caterer of its type in Scotland.

He became president of the Hotel and Catering and Institutional Management Association (now IOH) in 1993, following a number of committee chairmanships in the hospitality industry. He also lectured in the USA and France on hospitality marketing.
He became a major shareholder in Heart of Midlothian and was its chief executive until 2005.

In January 2002, Robinson launched Heritage Hospitality. He quickly secured two contracts, but realised that his company was a direct competitor of the more established Portfolio.

Mark Miller founded Portfolio Catering in his mother's kitchen in 1993 with £5,000. The business grew through three acquisitions "and a lot of hard work". Nine years later it was turning over £2m and had 60 staff.

In October 2002, the two companies merged and Heritage Portfolio was born with Robinson as chairman and Miller as executive director.

Chris Robinson and Mark Miller - What we think

By looking at the bigger picture and setting aside their interest in running individual companies, Chris Robinson and Mark Miller have created a stronger, more vibrant operation. Instead of becoming arch rivals, Robinson and Miller took the decision to join forces and pool their strengths. They then put together a strong managerial team including Ian D'Annunzio-Green, a former Scottish operations manager for Sodexho Prestige, and Alan Duff, who helped develop and manage Wheatsheaf venues such as Edinburgh Castle and Culzean Castle.

Heritage Portfolio's catering services help showcase many of Scotland's top historical venues. It is the exclusive event caterer at prestigious venues in Scotland such as The Signet Library, Mansfield Traquair, Lennoxlove House, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, the National Trust for Scotland and Musselburgh Racecourse. It is also the approved caterer at the National Museums of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Dovecot Studios, Scone Palace, Royal College of Physicians and many more.

The company provides event design as well as hospitality and many of the parties the company choreographs are one-offs, so the team only get one chance at impressing customers. The company has weathered the economic downturn, adapting to the fact that corporate entertainment doesn't stop, it simply changes.

Robinson has proved himself an active member of the wider Scottish tourism scene. He is the former president of the Hotel Catering & Institutional Management Association and formerstudent president of Heriot Watt University as well as being former vice-president Scottish Football Association.

Tenth anniversary contract wins >>

Hopetoun house deal >>

Sells Wheatsheaf >>

Heritage Portfolio website >>

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