Overall position: 89 (new entry)
Foodservice position: 10 (new entry)
Catherine Roe is chief executive of foodservice firm Elior UK. She heads a business with a turnover of nearly £300m and more than 11,000 employees across the country. Elior UK offers catering services across a huge range of sectors, from business, industry and commercial clients to care and residential homes through its Caterplus arm, the education sector, defence, stadia, and the City via Lexington Catering. It also provides a range of support services such as reception and security, cleaning and housekeeping.
What we think
An Oxford graduate, Roe worked for 12 years at Ladbroke Group before joining Sodexo as head of purchasing. She moved on to Elior in 2004 as purchasing director before being made general director of contract and concession markets and then managing director of Elior UK in 2011.
Her promotion to the top job in 2014, when many expected an appointment from outside the business or an executive from one of the firm's overseas divisions, demonstrates the high esteem in which she is held. She had little time to find her feet, with Elior floating on the Euronext Paris exchange in May of that year.
A few months later, and closer to home, Elior acquired London-based caterer Lexington, which at the time had a turnover of £30m and over 650 employees. Since then, Roe has continued to lead expansion, with other notable acquisitions including the Waterfall Catering Group in July 2016 (a firm that at the time had 803 sites and revenue of £70m, and specialised in the education, care and welfare markets). And in April last year, Elior UK bought 100% of the share capital of fellow contract caterer Edwards & Blake, which is based in Norfolk and has a portfolio of contracts in the education, and business and industry sectors.
Meanwhile, Roe remains devoted to celebrating the achievements of women from all walks of life and providing a role model for young women. This year she took up the post of chair of the management committee for the Women of the Year awards. She is joined by Women of the Year president, ITV news anchor Julie Etchingham, and the pair take over from some distinguished predecessors in the shape of Jane Luca, director of public affairs at ITV, and TV presenter and comedian Sandi Toksvig.
Despite keeping company with some well-known TV personalities, Roe keeps a low media profile and has done few interviews since she took the top job at Elior. Nonetheless, she has demonstrated a quiet determination to expand Elior and enhance the firm's reputation, both among its own staff and clients, winning considerable respect along the way.
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