Best Concept Award
This award recognises a sector leading concept which has made a significant impact over the past 12 months, combining an excellent consumer proposition with dynamic execution.
The Ivy Collection
This category recognises an outstanding multi-site company which delights customers, invests in its people, and demonstrates strong commercial resilience.
Best Use of Tech
This award is for an operator which has led the way with innovative technology to enhance its business and boost engagement with consumers.
Big Mamma Group – for its operator-focused payment app Sunday
itsu – for its enhanced customisation and back of house efficiencies
Leon – for its digital screens and drive-thru tech
McDonalds – leader of the pack with recent investments in AI
YO! – digital ordering and payment, click and collect and automated belts
Deal of the Year
This category recognises the best deal to have taken place over the last 12 months, delivering an opportunity for the new ownership to grow and lead the business into a bright future.
Gails acquired by Bain Capital
Hawthorn acquired by Admiral Taverns
Leon acquired by EG Group
Pho acquired by TriSpan
Punch acquired by Fortress Investment Group
Investor of the Year
This award is for an individual or company that has successfully invested in the eating and drinking-out market over the last 12 months, whether through acquisition or in the continued development of its portfolio.
Boparan for its multi-brand offering The Restaurant Hub
Bridgepoint’s investment in itsu
Nightcap for its investment in Adventure Bar Group
Redcat Pub Company & Oaktree Capital’s fast-growing pub portfolio
Trispan for its investment in Pho
Best New Opening
This award goes to a 2021 site opening which combines a great location with outstanding design and exceptional customer appeal.
Eataly, Liverpool Street
Hawksmoor, Canary Wharf
Sessions’ Shelter Hall, Brighton
The Furnace, Sheffield
This award celebrates a fledgling multi-site format the senior industry believes looks set to deliver sustainable success.
Street Burger Gordon Ramsay
The Evolution Award
This award is for the business which has notably evolved its offer, to create new and sustainable revenue streams and greater customer engagement.
Azzurri’s Coco di Mama for its virtual kitchen rollout
itsu for its move into evenings and hot food
Leon for its move into drive-thru
Pret for its repositioning away from city centre heartland
YO!’s continued development into omnichannel and retail
Brands from America, Asia and beyond continue to favour Britain as a flagship region to do business, and this new award celebrates the concept that has made the biggest splash upon arriving on these shores.
Retailer’s Retailer of the Year
This award is chosen by the Retailers Academy, made up of senior UK operators and MCA subscribers, to be the outstanding leader during the year.
David Page chairman, the Fulham Shore
Jeremy King CEO at Corbin and King
Karen Jones chair of Hawksmoor, Prezzo and Mowgli
Nick Collins CEO of Loungers
Nick Mackenzie CEO of Greene King
Sustainability Award – to be decided by a panel of judges
Last year saw the cocktail bar and restaurant group introduce five pillars of change across its business, which include actions on energy, waste and transport to support its long-term sustainability goals. It has assigned ‘green keepers’ across its venues to keep energy saving targets in check, through the use of appliance timers, LED lights and insulated hot water pipes, for example. When it comes to waste management, its packaging for Deliveroo and napkins are made from recyclable and sustainable materials, and its Rubies in the Rubble ketchup is made from supermarket fruit and veg which would otherwise be discarded.
Known for its long-term commitment to sustainable practices, Wahaca has continued to innovate during the pandemic, reworking its menu to be 50% vegetarian, and upgrading its pork and chicken to free-range. In October 2021 it also launched Wahacamole – its low carbon sustainable take on guacamole, using British organic fava instead of avocados. The Mexican restaurant chain has also been transitioning its takeaway packaging away from plastic, to bagasse – a sugar cane waste product, and has committed to reduce its carbon outputs by a further 15% between 2021 and 2024.
In early 2021, Nando’s set out to double-down on its commitment to sustainability and the climate crisis. It was proud to have first European hospitality company to set a science-based target back in 2019, committing to a 50% carb reduction per meal, but knew this wasn’t enough, so it increased its ambition to become a net zero carbon business by 2030. It took immediate action through the use of verifiable carbon offset programme, achieving carbon neutral status for all its meals, sauce bottles and deliveries by November last year.
Darwin & Wallace
The neighbourhood bar group has been committed to keeping its impact on the environment to the minimum since its inception, designing its menus to minimise waste, including making its own syrups and seasonal purees and dehydrating as many garnishes as possible. It recycles 89% of all the waste it produces and has eliminated single use plastic in the form of plastic straws and cling film. New initiatives include a soon to be launched project with Urban Organic this spring, whereby its horticultural team will work with Darwin & Wallace to plan, plant and harvest fresh produce for its menus.
McDonald’s UK & Ireland launches its new business and sustainability initiative – Plan for Change – in October 2021, setting ambitious goals across four key areas: planet, people, restaurants and food, which includes a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. Action was accelerated in a number of areas last year, for example the fast-food chain launched a pilot of its new McPlant burger in 250+ restaurants, which will be rolled out this year, and opened its first net zero emissions restaurant in Market Drayton, which will act as a blueprint for future restaurants around the country. It also replaced all its hard plastic Happy Meal toys with either a soft toy, paper-based toy or book.
Since the beginning Hawksmoor has set out to do things ‘the right way’, and in 2021 paid particular attention to its sustainability practices, scrutinising everything it does, from its energy use down to the way its teams travel to work. It achieved carbon neutral status earlier this year and has begun to implement a detailed science-based plan to get the restaurant group to net zero by 2030. Some of the biggest changes to date have been the move to renewable energy at all its sites in October 2021, carrying out sustainability and carbon literacy training for 150 of its managers and working with its suppliers to localise its supply, with around 90% of its produce coming from the UK.
Hero of the Year Award – to be decided by a panel of judges:
Nik Lowery, property director, Arc Inspirations
Nik Lowery has worked relentlessly through the pandemic, keeping up to date with the restrictions applicable to the different locations it operates in, amending risk assessments and planning how the northern-based bar group could operate safely, according to nominator Arc Inspirations’ chief executive Martin Wolstencroft. Lowery also managed to save the business more than £1m in rent through negotiating with its landlords, and effectively collaborated with local authorities which has seen better relationships forged with both parties.
Ian Cutler, head of safety, Mitchells & Butlers
Ian Cutler stepped up to the additional demands of his role during the pandemic, joining twice weekly calls with the M&B’s executive forum, and having to stand his ground with division directors and the HR director to guide the business through the challenges of the past 12 months. Nominated by Mitchells & Butlers’ chief executive Phil Urban, Cutler lay out the standard expected for ever-changing Covid secure protocols, and held its operators to account for their delivery, while demonstrating his ability to listen to feedback from colleagues.
Charlie Warren, senior managing partner, Pizza Pilgrims
Recently promoted to the role of senior managing partner, Charlie Warren looks after every element of running Pizza Pilgrim’s six sites – from team happiness, to quality and commercials. In a year of constant ‘rug pulls’, she has never faltered once and has been a driving force for positivity in the company, according to nominator Thom Elliott, founder, Pizza Pilgrims. She has championed the values of the business in the face of the staffing crisis, only bring on those who fit the culture, and has overseen the development of 14 people to management positions through its academy over the past 12 months.
Antony Doyle, ops director, Lounge
The way he has handled his responsibility for 155 Lounge sites – visiting every single one within six weeks of re-opening last summer – makes Antony Doyle a worthy winner, believes nominator Justin Carter, MD, Lounge. He masterminded the puzzle of juggling teams to keep its sites open, and recruitment for 17 new locations, at a time when recruitment was close to impossible, while continuing to rally the troops with his sense of humour intact.
Mike Buckley, head of safety, audit and stock, Revolution Bars Group
Guiding the Revolution team through the restrictions of the past two years, with unfailing humour, Mike Buckley has ensured its site teams are well-informed and confident in the face of badly-informed members of the public, police officers and environmental health officers. He has also had to face the media storm around needle spiking in the autumn, focusing on what it could be done to keep its guests safe, according to nominator Danielle Davies, CFO at Revolution Bars Group. In dealing with security staff shortages, he has also ensured guest safety by extending his training regime outside the company to the businesses that supply the safety personnel.
Lifetime Achievement Award
"One of the best events on the calendar"
"The evening brings together the
finest operators in the leisure
and hospitality sector and is a
true celebration of excellence”
"It's the night in the annual calendar that you definitely get in the diary"