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Who are the leaders today?

24 July 2008 by

Jeremy Logie, executive secretary of the Master Innholders, wonders where all the high-profile industry kingpins have gone

I was lucky enough to attend the 2008 Cateys - a triumphant evening celebrating all that is best in our industry. Congratulations to both Caterer and the Grosvenor House hotel for making the evening sparkle like never before.

But looking at the guest list made me think about why the industry no longer has the sort of high-profile leader we used to have. I asked myself if I could actually name many of today's industry captains? The answer, apart from Alan Parker, Sir Rocco Forte and Grant Hearn, was a resounding no.

Back in the day, we all knew and revered "the great and the good" industry leaders: Charles Forte, the Salmons, Glucksteins and Josephs (Lyons/Strand Hotels), Lord Crowther and Michael Pickard (Trust Houses), Maxwell Joseph (Grand Met), Hugh Wontner (Savoy) and Henry Edwards (Centre Hotels).

These guys were all giants in their own lifetime, who led the industry by example. Even 10 or 15 years ago, we still had a good number we all recognised and respected - people such as Michael Hirst, John Jarvis, Robert Peel, Peter Catesby, Giles Shepard, David Michels, Tony Potter, Charles Allen, Dennis Hearn and Giuseppe Pecorelli, plus contract caterers Garry Hawkes, Francis Mackay and Don Davenport.

True, the face of the industry is ever-changing, and new companies buy up old ones. It seems that very few of the top 10 hotel companies keep the same name for more than a decade. Perhaps chief executives get "churned" so quickly that they don't have time to realise what industry they are in.

If we were to ask the man in the street who is leading the hospitality industry today, I guess the top names would be Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Perhaps it doesn't matter any more and I shouldn't fret. After all, as we clearly saw demonstrated at the Cateys, the industry is thriving and standards keep rising.

But it leads me to the conclusion - and perhaps it was always thus - that the true movers and shakers are the proprietors and general managers who just keep on doing a great job and keep promoting the industry in every sense of the word: people like Harry Murray, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Catey.

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