New Zealander Laura Harper-Hinton has made a career of being unflappable. Now co-founder and chief executive of Caravan, the all-day dining chain, she began in events — a job that once entailed booking Elton John and building an ice rink for Russian figure skaters at a charity dinner.

On another occasion, the Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde was about to perform when the sound system failed. “It was a disaster — we couldn’t get it back up and running for 20 minutes, and then it was only half on and the sound was terrible,” recalled Harper-Hinton, now 45. “Producing events for ten years taught me stress management and resilience.”

These are vital qualities in the hospitality sector, which has endured a tumultuous time amid Brexit and Covid. Despite that, Caravan, which operates eight sites across London and has plans for national expansion, achieved sales of £26 million and a profit of £1 million last year. It employs 550 people and also roasts its own coffee, which it sells to consumers through its website and Amazon.

For Harper-Hinton, founding Caravan in 2010, alongside boyfriend Chris Ammermann and friend Miles Kirby, was the realisation of a long-held dream. The trio met in their late teens while studying and juggling jobs at the Mondo Cucina restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand, where they drank tequila after their shifts ended and fantasised about opening an all-day dining venue that served freshly ground coffee.

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