Overall ranking: 33
Foodservice ranking: 7
Sir Roy Gardner - Snapshot
Sir Roy Gardner is the chairman of the Compass Group, the world’s largest contract caterer and the leading player in the £3.865b UK market.
It operates across a diverse range of sectors that include business and industry; fine dining; education; healthcare; vending; sports and leisure; and military, remote and offshore sites.
Compass owns a raft of brand names such as Eurest, Baxter & Platts and Everson Hewett (B&I), Restaurant Associates and Roux Fine Dining, Scholarest and Chartwells (for school meals) and Medirest (for hospitals and care homes).
The group, which employs in excess of 400,000 staff in more than 90 countries, announced annual sales of £12.7b in 2005 although reported profits tumbled by 53.8% to £171m and underlying profits fell by 19% to £581m.
Gardner is also a director of Willis Group Holdings and a senior advisor at Credit Suisse.
Sir Roy Gardner – Career guide
Sir Roy Gardner, now 60, started his career in the commercial aircraft division of the British Aircraft Corporation before joining Marconi Company as group finance director in 1979. In January 1986, he became finance director at STC and was promoted to managing director of STC Communications Systems.
He became chief operating officer for Northern Telecom Europe after it bought STC and then moved to GEC Marconi as managing director.
Sir Roy joined British Gas as executive director of finance in 1994. In 1997, following the demerger of the British Gas supply, services and retail businesses, Gardner became chief executive of Centrica, which trades in Britain under the British Gas brand.
Sir Roy was appointed senior non-executive director of Compass in October 2005 and assumed the role of chairman in July 2006
Sir Roy Gardner – What we think
Gardner’s predecessor, Sir Francis Mackay, had successfully steered Compass from a £250m UK-based business in 1991 into the international giant it is today. In the process, Mackay changed the face of contract catering, spearheaded the use of retail-style brands in the workplace and was among the first to spot the opportunities outside the workplace offered by hospitals, airports, football grounds and railways.
But by 2004, the group’s star seem to be fading and it was faced by a barrage of woes and criticisms on a number of fronts - plummeting profits, a UN corruption scandal over contracts in Africa, shareholder unrest over its turnover- and acquisition-led growth strategy at the expense of cash flow and return-on-investment, adverse publicity over its hard-nosed dealings with suppliers and clients, not to mention a £420m pension black hole.
In the wake of a revolving door at the boardroom, Gardner now heads up a team of new bloods drafted in to revive the group’s fortunes and standing with the City. His choice as a figurehead for the group has been welcomed by the City and his background and wide-ranging involvement in the industry, training and charitable worlds explains why.
He became one of the most influential executives in British business during his leadership of Centrica which he successfully diversified into a range of financial, telecoms, home and road services (with the acquisition of the Automobile Association) whilst building the demerged British Gas business to dominate Britain’s retail power market.
Despite his low-key business approach, Gardner has been hailed as a powerful team leader and motivator, and is described by colleagues as a fast learner and a good listener with a strong grasp of the finer detail.
Gardner was knighted in 2002 for his services to the gas and electricity industries and, in late 2005 – while he was chairman elect at Compass - was voted into 49th place in the Times Power 100 list – four points ahead of his predecessor, Mackay, in the 53rd position.
In the current decade, Gardner has also served as non-executive director and non-executive chairman for Manchester United FC and non-executive chairman for Laporte.
In 2002, he was appointed by Chancellor Gordon Brown as chairman of the Apprenticeships Task Force and now chairs its successor, Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network. He also chairs Ambition Energy.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Royal Society of Arts, a Companion of the Institute of Management and a member of the advisory council of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust.
Gardner also served as president of the Carers National Association (now Carers UK) and is a trustee of the Development Trust for the mentally handicapped.
Sir Roy Gardner – Further information
Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here