The Power List: The Boardroom

By Restaurant magazine

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The Power List: The Boardroom

Related tags: Chief executive, Chief executive officer

Details of the 20 'boardroom bigwigs' chosen for The Power List: Restaurant magazine's 100 most powerful people in the restaurant industry. 
  1. Nick Jones.​ Since the first Soho House opened in 1995, the private members club has become a global phenomenon and is arguably the UK’s most impressive and successful export in the hospitality sector. Having extended his reach beyond clubs to include a growing portfolio of restaurants, including Pizza East and Chicken Shop, founder Nick Jones is showing no signs of slowing down. The group will open eight Houses across three continents during the next two years, including its first in Asia, with the launch of Soho House Mumbai.
  2. Steve Richards​. Former pub heavy-hitter Steve Richards heads the Casual Dining Group which, following a spate of acquisitions, now includes high-street staples Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and La Tasca. Richards is responsible for almost 300 branded restaurants and plans to open more alongside a major refurbishment project. He’s also chairman of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.
  3. Richard Hodgson​. He may have only been at PizzaExpress for a couple of years but Richard Hodgson has already made his mark with a big push for the delivery market that will see as many as 200 delivery hubs open across the UK. To help the Hony Capital-owned chain with this ambition, he recently led the purchase of London-based upscale pizza delivery chain Firezza. The former supermarket boss also oversaw the development of the first new concept for PizzaExpress in years, the chicken-centric Reys in Cambridge. 
  4. Rob Papps.​ Not one for the limelight, the managing director of Nando’s UK and Ireland has quietly built the Portuguese chicken chain into one of the UK’s most successful restaurant groups. Nando’s finds itself in the rare position of being the only major player in its sector, something Papps uses to his advantage, with plans to double the 350-strong restaurant estate in the UK.
  5. David Campbell​. David Campbell rejuvenated Wagamama when he took over as chief executive in 2013, improving the quality of its food and operations, and the Asian brand is eyeing huge growth. Wagamama already has an international presence with operations in 18 countries and the chain recently secured a US flagship site in New York as well as one in Soho, London.
  6. Steve Holmes.​ The chief executive of the Azzurri Group, which owns the ASK Italian and Zizzi brands, controls a large swathe of the UK’s Italian restaurant sector. Moreover, the group’s more casual Italian brand Coco di Mama could reach 40 sites in the next couple of years, with Holmes looking to evolve the Italian restaurant market. Indeed, 2015 was hailed as a transformational 12 months for Azzurri so expect more from it in the future.
  7. John Eckbert​. Five Guys exploded on to the UK market when it launched in Covent Garden in 2013 and it hasn’t looked back. The US burger chain has expanded aggressively across the country with
    managing director John Eckbert now overseeing 41 sites on these shores. Moreover, Five Guys is on target to open 30 more restaurants in the UK this year. 
  8. Simon Blagden.​ With Simon Blagden at the helm, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, which runs the Jamie’s Italian brand, outpaced many of its casual-dining rivals during the downturn. While there may not be too many more Jamie’s Italians planned for the UK’s high streets, the brand is far from finished, with its sights set on overseas expansion. It already runs 20 international sites, with plans for a
    further 12 to 14 in the coming year.
  9. Tom Byng. ​Byron has changed the face of burger restaurants in the UK with its individual style of restaurant design, focus on craft beers and the quality of its burgers influencing how existing and new competitors approach the market. Founder and CEO Tom Byng remains the driving force of the brand as it continues its sweep across the country. It could even go abroad one day. 
  10. Tim Bacon.​ The CEO of Living Ventures Group has built a multi-headed hospitality company that owns and operates restaurant brands including Gusto, Blackhouse, Australasia, Artisan and Manchester House as well as pubs and bars under its New World Trading Company banner and has a turnover of more than £100m. The company has a major presence in the north of England in particular.
  11. John Vincent. ​After years of slow growth, healthy fast-food chain Leon has got things moving since John Vincent fully took the reins as CEO in 2014. As well as overseeing the rollout of the now 33-strong brand, Vincent also co-authored the Government’s The School Food Plan in 2013. He will take Leon international with a restaurant in the Netherlands, at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport this year. 
  12. Danny Breithaupt​. Casual-dining veteran Danny Breithaupt is CEO of The Restaurant Group, which includes well-established brands Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkel’s alongside newer branded
    concepts including Coast to Coast and Joe’s Kitchen. Breithaupt – who aims to build the London Stock Exchange-listed company up to 850 sites – moved into the pub game recently following the
    acquisition of Brunning & Price.
  13. Julian Metcalfe​. The Pret A Manger pioneer and Itsu founder has led a fast-casual food revolution in this country and is at the forefront of the healthy-eating movement. There are big plans ahead for Itsu, with the company recently securing a £40m refinancing package to fund its national and international expansion – it will open around 20 non-London sites during the next 12 months – and launching delivery arm Itsu [to you].
  14. Alex Reilley.​ Since founding Loungers in 2002 with Jake Bishop and David Reid, Alex Reilley has built a bar and restaurant group that has capitalised on the growth of all-day dining and has thrived in off-pitch locations. The company operates more than 80 Lounges and Cosy Clubs and is on track to post turnover of £78m this year. The former managing director is now executive vice-chairman of the company.
  15. Simon Kossoff​. With just shy of 100 UK restaurants, Carluccio’s has had strong growth under chairman Simon Kossoff and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Italian chain has just entered the grab-and-go sector with its Via Carluccio’s format and continues to make inroads internationally. It operates 12 sites in the Middle East, a further five in Turkey and is set to open its second site in the US soon.
  16. Robin Rowland. ​Robin Rowland joined Yo! Sushi when the business ran four London restaurants and has helped it grow to more than 90 today, including five in the US. He remains hands-on, recently stepping back into the chief executive role he previously held for 14 years. Rowland, who is also a non-executive director at Caffè Nero and Tortilla, was made an OBE for services to the restaurant
    and hospitality industry last year.
  17. Jens Hofma​. Originally brought in to get Pizza Hut ready for a quick sale, Dutch management consultant-turned-entrepreneur Jens Hofma loved the brand so much he invested some of his own money and embarked on one of the biggest ever refreshes in the casual space. Fast forward to today and the US pizza chain is looking much better and Hofma’s decision to bring its US roots to the fore has been a sensible one.
  18. Karen Forrester.​ The chief executive of TGI Friday’s has created a fantastic working environment for her staff, with the 70-strong US-themed brand recently being named Best Big Company to Work for in the UK by Best Companies. When Forrester arrived at TGI in 2008, things weren’t looking good but, under her leadership, the future for the brand is now much brighter with eight new restaurants due to open this year.
  19. Alasdair Murdoch. ​Gourmet Burger Kitchen could have easily fallen by the wayside as dozens of new players entered the premium patty space, but CEO Alasdair Murdoch has proved to be a steady pair of hands. The group has reinvested heavily to keep its restaurants and menus looking fresh and is particularly savvy when it comes to utilising technology to drive loyalty.
  20. Alex Scrimgeour​. French brasserie chain Côte has experienced massive growth over the past few years, aided in no small part by Alex Scrimgeour. The former joint managing director of the company is now its chief executive and is overseeing the next stage of growth for the 70-strong French chain, which recently bought Jackson & Rye and Limeyard from Richard Caring. Under Scrimgeour, Côte will continue to explore further M&A opportunities.

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