Food Service Circle open letter to the catering sector

The Food Service Circle has issued a letter, signed by the leaders of major contract caterers, encouraging people to sign a petition calling for a minister for hospitality. To sign the petition, go to

There’s no denying that the hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit throughout the pandemic, and as many businesses continue to struggle during this crisis, we will never have a greater opportunity to make a stand. This year, in particular, we have seen many examples of disjointed thinking surrounding this industry. Several of the challenges may have been avoided if we had representation within Parliament who has operational experience and a deeper understanding of the sector.

Currently, representation for hospitality is split between two crowded government departments: the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. For several years, the industry has challenged the UK government to explain why we don’t have a dedicated Minister for Hospitality. Now, as you may know, a petition has been launched to finally bring this debate to parliament.

Having contributed over £130bn to the economy, resulting in £38bn taxation, the UK hospitality industry is the country’s third-largest employer, responsible for around 3.2m jobs directly, and 1.8m indirectly. In addition to championing hospitality and promoting the importance of its economic, social, and employment contribution, a dedicated minister would drive cohesive thinking and strategy at the top table inclusive of all sub-sectors. We believe this person would have played a vital role in supporting the government throughout the pandemic period.

The individual appointed would be fully invested and have a deep understanding of this complex industry — including the contract catering sector — while also advancing the status of hospitality and tourism as a whole. This shift in structure will force the government to support and engage with hospitality leaders, as well as helping to promote growth and the sector’s interests.

We are delighted that the petition has now hit its 100,000 target, but considering the number of businesses in serious financial difficulty, the growing number of redundancies, and the threat of increasing restrictions, the more voices we have pushing for this debate, the better. We collectively commit to signing the petition and sharing the important message with team members, customers, suppliers, friends and family, and our local MP.

Together, we can get through this challenging period.

The Food Service Circle

The signatories include:

Sue Johnson, managing director, ABM Catering
Kevin Watson, managing director, Amadeus
Lawrence Shirazian, managing director, Aramark
Andrew Botting, managing director, Artizian Catering
Wendy Bartlett MBE, founder, Bartlett Mitchell 
Noel Mahoney and John Bennett, co-chief executives, BaxterStorey
Ruston Toms, founding director, Blue Apple Contract Catering
Stephen Williams, managing director, Celtic Catering
Tim Jones, chairman, CH&Co
Rebecca Bridgement, managing director, Radish
Robin Mills, managing director, Compass Group UK and Ireland
Catherine Roe, chief executive, Elior UK
Mark Davies, managing director, ISS UK Food Service
Chris Mitchell, managing director, Genuine Dining Co
Tim O’neill, managing director, Graysons
Geoffrey Harrison, chairman, Harrison Catering
Simon Houston, co-director, Houston and Hawkes
Julia Edmonds, managing director, Lexington
Paul Cowie, head of catering, OCS UK
Mr Chris Bray, CEO Sports amd Leisure, Sodexo UK and Ireland
Phil Roker, managing director, Vacherin