Steve Easterbrook, the man who has led the turnaround of McDonald’s in the UK, has been singled out by his peers as the stand-out individual in the eating-out and drinking-out market. The chief executive of the fast-food giant collected the Best Individual prize at this year’s Retailers’ Retailer of the Year Awards, organised by M&C Report. He emerged from an assorted shortlist of eminent business leaders from the eating and drinking-out market, narrowly beating: Rupert Clevely, managing director, Geronimo Inns; John Derkach, managing director, Costa Coffee; John Hutson, chief executive, JD Wetherspoon; Philippe Le Roux, chief executive of Le Pain Quotidien UK; and Julian Metcalfe, founder, Pret A Manger. The awards, in their 12th year, are unique in that they are the only ones voted for by senior executives from the industry itself. They are, therefore, a true reflection of what the market thinks, identifying the best companies, concepts and individuals. Easterbrook trained as an accountant at Price Waterhouse before joining the finance department of McDonald’s in 1993. Five years on he began running restaurants and spent 18 months at Hamburger University, a corporate training academy near McDonald’s head offices in Chicago. Returning to Britain, he held a number of senior management positions before being appointed president and chief executive of McDonald's UK in April 2006. 10 months later he also became president of McDonald's Northern Europe, giving him responsibility for Ireland and Scandinavia. Easterbrook’s prize was the first of two awards for McDonald’s. The world’s largest purveyor of burgers also collected the Evolution Award, recognising the work undertaken to re-position the brand’s UK business and to re-engage with British consumers. The prestigious awards, which took place on 3 March at The Dorchester on London’s Park Lane, take their name because they identify retailing excellence in an eating and drinking-out environment. Market positioning, great products, attention to detail and flawless execution are the hallmarks of past and present winners. The Rising Star prize went to Jillian MacLean, the managing director of Drake & Morgan. The company collected a second award when its first site – The Refinery in London’s Bankside – was named Best Venue Jamie’s Italian, the 10-strong casual dining chain spearheaded by Jamie Oliver that has just revealed its intention to launch restaurant 13 in Bristol, was named Best Concept. It was the first of two awards for Oliver, who was also named Investor of the Year. In addition to Jamie’s Italian, he has a fledgling chain of cooking shops called Recipease, is launching a new Mexican barbecue concept in London this year called Barbacoa and also heads the Fifteen fine-dining chain that trains and promotes aspiring young chefs, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Pret A Manger, the high street coffee and sandwich operator, was named Best Company for the third time, having won the prize in 1999 and again in 2003. The Emerging Concept award went to Chilango, the quick-service Mexican format led by entrepreneurs Dan Houghton and Eric Partaker The awards were generously supported by event partners Altium, Barclays, BDO Stoy Hayward, Brulines, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Shelley Sandzer, Zenith Hygiene Group and Zonal Retail Data Systems. The process to determine the winners saw a 700-strong bank of senior operators, industry experts and suppliers – known as the Retailers’ Academy – nominate the shortlists in each category. The shortlists were then sent back out to the Academy for final voting, with the finalists with the most votes emerging as the winners.