Cateys 2012: Food Service Caterer Award ? Ben Warner
Sponsored by the British Hospitality Association
At first glance, Ben Warner might seem like an unusual choice to receive this award, particularly as he doesn’t really think of himself as a contract caterer.
Warner started his career as a chef. He worked for Raymond Blanc at Maison Blanc and learnt his trade in the South of France cooking on private yachts between 1983 and 1985.
In 1990 he took his first steps on to the high street when he founded sandwich bar chain Harry Masons. Five years later he became an original franchisee of Pret a Manger, overseeing three sites.
It was in 1998 that he and his brother, Hugo, founded Benugo. What began as a single site in London’s Clerkenwell has grown to become a series of high-street stores as well as restaurants and concessions in some of the world’s largest and most-respected corporate organisations and public spaces. High-profile names such as the British Film Institute, the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Museums Scotland are currently on the company’s burgeoning heritage portfolio, while RBS, Deutsche Bank and UBS are some of Benugo’s corporate clients.
Following Benugo’s acquisition by catering giant WSH in 2007, turnover grew at a rapid rate, from ?13m to ?45m (for 2011), and Warner has remained the key driving force behind the business. Making the most of the greater infrastructural support available, he has ensured that the firm’s original values and cultures were retained, a stance that is wholeheartedly supported by Benugo’s parent company.
In addition to this commitment to integrity, Warner’s retail savvy is what saw him win this particular Catey. It is recognition that as the lines between the contracted and commercial sectors continue to blur, he is trailblazing a path ahead and showing his peers how it’s done.
What the judges said
“He stood out from the crowd because, with the way the industry is developing, the food service industry and the high-street retailers are becoming intermingled. They are being seen more as ‘one body’ and Ben is a perfect example of this.”
Robyn Jones, CH&Co
“Ben’s personality was stamped on the business in the way he inspired his team to deliver his dream, which from their results came true.”
Geoffrey Harrison, Harrison Catering Services
“Ben has been one of the architects of bringing the retail side of catering into partnership with food service. His ability to get things right the first time and keep them right ensures he stays a good distance from his nearest competition.”
Tim West, Lexington Catering
- Caroline Fry, chief executive, CH&Co
- Mike Sunley, chief executive, Lexington Catering
- Ben Warner, founder, Benugo
- Tim Cookson, chairman, the Litmus Partnership
- Geoffrey Harrison, managing director, Harrison Catering Services
- Phil Hooper, corporate affairs director, Sodexo
- Hannah Horler, managing director, Cartwheel Recruitment
- Kate Martin, managing partner,
- The Brookwood Partnership
- Robyn Jones, chief executive, CH&Co
- Alastair Storey, chairman and chief executive, WSH
- Tim West, chairman, Lexington Catering