Jane Holbrook, who stepped down as chief executive of Wagamama at the turn of the year, has been voted by her peers as the industry’s most outstanding operator of the past 12 months.
Holbrook claimed the top prize at last night’s Retailers’ Retailer of the Year awards, hosted by MCA at London’s Guildhall.
The awards, in their 21st year, saw Holbrook take the headline award of Retailers’ Retailer of the Year, ahead of Whitbread’s Alison Brittain, Nick Collins at Loungers, Azzurri Group’s Steve Holmes, Simon Longbottom of Stonegate, Andy McCue of The Restaurant Group and City Pub Group’s Clive Watson.
The night saw Dishoom retain their title of Best Concept, with Nando’s awarded the title of Best Company. Flight Club was a double winner – scooping Best Emerging Concept and Best Use of Technology.
The Evolution Award went to Caravan, while JKS Restaurants won Best Venue for Brigadiers in London. TDR Capital was named Investor of the Year with Whitbread’s sale of Costa to Coca-Cola was judged as the Deal of the Year.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Stonegate’s Ian Payne, while the Tim Bacon Rising Star was Mowgli’s Nisha Katona.
The awards once again partnered with the Tim Bacon Foundation, with over £5,000 raised on the night.
Jane Holbrook said: “Thank you all for this, it really is amazing. I wish Mum and Dad were still around to see this working class girl from Rotherhithe win this fantastic award. Family is really important to me and is at the core of what we focused on over the last few years at Wagamama. We set ourselves out with the vision of becoming the best employer in the sector.
“We worked really hard to embrace and actively support the teams, and to create a culture where everyone could be the very best they could be….from the guys on the pot wash through to the most senior leaders in the business. Our mantra for the past two years was love love love. Love and look after yourself, physically and mentally. Love your team - and they will love your customer. That helped us create the magic that is Wagamama.
“I have had loads of encouragement and support on my journey to winning this award….there are too many people to thank you all, but you know who you are.”