Foodservice Cateys 2019: People and Training Award - Sarah Hutchings, Searcys

14 October 2019 by
Foodservice Cateys 2019: People and Training Award - Sarah Hutchings, Searcys

Sponsored by Admiral Recruitment

Described as a "one-woman powerhouse" who has demonstrated "a clear focus on people and business strategy" and "added value to the people within the business", Sarah Hutchings has been making quite the impact at Searcys since arriving at the company last year.

Her role of head of recruitment was created to support and enhance the recruitment and selection process across all 20-plus Searcys venues, including the Gherkin and the Barbican in London, and Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

In her role Hutchings has sole charge of attracting recruits and selecting for all vacancies across the business. The recruitment process had been described as "tired" prior to her joining, with a lack of focus on candidate care, employer branding and effective selection as well as no standardised job specs.

The resulting inconsistency in hiring standards led in turn to overspending on agency staff. Hutchings was given the job of building an effective talent pool for key Searcys roles in catering, front of house and management to ensure business continuity, as well as implementing a streamlined recruitment process across the whole company. To attract a high standard of employee, the company also needed a strong employer brand.

To address the issues, Hutchings researched hospitality recruitment trends, pay and structure, and set a benchmark for the company.

She restructured the recruitment process company-wide to make it clear and efficient, introduced exploratory interviews, and built up the Searcys employer brand through a variety of marketing tools, including the targeted use of social media.

In her first three weeks, she filled a general manager role that had been open for four months. Her recruitment adverts for Searcys were also used as best practice examples at The Caterer People Summit 2019.

The company says she has been instrumental in its turnaround success, directly contributing to its best annual results in 2018 through a clear recruitment strategy delivering measurable results. Senior hires are now made increasingly from direct approaches, and the company says Hutchings has saved the business £150,000 in recruitment fees in her first year alone by eliminating agency spend.

Hutchings is a trailblazer, instilling the level of pace needed to meet the industry's recruitment challenge. She also approaches recruitment with a clarity of purpose and kindness, getting the very best from candidates.


"Sarah has made an outstanding contribution to the business, creating and developing a clear people strategy to support a demanding business model as well as delivering tangible benefits in retention and commercial areas."

Andy Milner, procurement and supply chain director, WSH

"A one-woman powerhouse who has had an amazing impact on recruitment and onboarding, providing a streamlined process with identifiable commercial benefits to the business."

Russ Scanlon, business director, Midlands and North, Bartlett Mitchell


Jeremy Ford, Gather & Gather

Rapport People Team

Sarah Hutchings, Searcys


(Previously Training Award)

2018 CH&Co learning and development team

2017 Rik Razza, BaxterStorey

2016 Tim Sturk, BaxterStorey

2015 David Bridge and the food development team ISS Food & Hospitality

2014 Graham Eveleigh, BaxterStorey

2013 Yen Chong, Harbour & Jones

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