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21 Mar 2017

Legendary names and rising stars make power list of North’s most significant and influential hospitality operators. This year’s operators cover 210 brands, 1012 sites and over 21,800 employees.

The NRB Top Fifty 2017, in association with Kuits Solicitors, has been announced with a mix of long-established names and an exciting ten new entries.

Thom Hetherington, CEO of organisers Holden Media, says “This year’s list has shown steady churn with an influx of new entrants particularly from Yorkshire and the North East. Research by CGA Peach demonstrates that the region’s ambitious, independent operators are thriving despite increasing competition, and it is the people who make up the NRB Top Fifty who are driving this dynamic.”

“I think that in terms of volume, variety and sheer quality Northern food and drink lovers have never had it so good,” added Thom

Three special achievement awards were presented to Jimmy del Guidice & Mark McQuater of Revolution Bars Group, Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut and Paul Moran & Jeremy Roberts of Living Ventures.

  • Jimmy del Giudice & Mark McQuater were chosen for taking on a brand which they knew required an overhaul, and overhaul it they did. They judged the market, changed the offer, and reaped the rewards, Progress has been relentless, and their new super-premium offering seems to have hit another customer sweet spot.
  • Gary Usher was selected as an individual who is living and breathing the model of what a contemporary restaurateur can be, with funding via crowd-sourcing, marketing via social media, and an emphasis on accessible, neighbourhood dining. Despite all this the underlying focus in on classical impeccable quality across all sites. 
  • Paul Moran & Jeremy Roberts received the award because after losing the heart and soul of their team and their business, they have simply powered the company forward, building management teams, spinning off brands, delivering expansion. They continue to shape the Northern Hospitality industry with a resilience and ambition that Tim Bacon would have admired. 

A panel of Northern hospitality experts in the fields of hospitality finance, property, law and consultancy deliberated and cogitated through hours of research and judging. The prestige of sealing a place on the list matters more than ever with those included becoming part of the influential NRB Top 50 Alumni association as well as receiving VIP invitations to events including the exclusive NRB Debate and the Too Many Critics Manchester dinner.

The NRB Top Fifty is produced in association with Kuits Solicitors and sponsored by The Russell Partnership, Metis Real Estate, Jelf Manson & CGA Peach.

The invitation-only NRB Top Fifty awards reception, supported by Fumo Manchester & JW Lees, took place at 3pm on 21 March 2017 at Northern Restaurant & Bar, the largest hospitality exhibition outside London.  It also formed part of NRB Fringe which, as well the awards and the exhibition, included the NRB Debate, Action Against Hunger’s Too Many Critics Manchester dinner, a host of industry association meetings and visitor special offers in bars and restaurants across the city.


Media Contacts

For more information & images please contact:

Clare Tams, Marketing Manager
01457 866750

Liam Whitehead, Digital & Social Media Marketing Executive
01457 866710

Editors Notes

NRB Top Fifty 2017 still to be updated

(listed alphabetically by surname and grouped by company)

Sax Arshad, Director, Mughli
Haz Arshad, Director, Mughli

Adele Ashley, Owner / Head Chef, Filmore & Union

Paul Askew, Chef Patron, The Art School

Mohammed Aslam MBE, Owner, Aagrah Group

Rob Bacon, Executive Chef Director, Hickory's Smokehouse
Jason Bligh, Director, Hickory's Smokehouse
Neil McDonnell, Managing Director, Hickory's Smokehouse
John Welsh, Operations Director, Hickory's Smokehouse

Craig Bancroft, Managing Director, Northcote
Nigel Haworth, Chef Patron, Northcote

Tim Bird, Owner, Cheshire Cat Pub & Bars
Mary Mclaughlin, Owner, Cheshire Cat Pub & Bars

Ken Buckley, Managing Director, Bravo Inns

Marie Carter, Director, Beautiful Drinks
Beau Myers, Director, Beautiful Drinks

Paul Cogan, Group Finance & Resources Director, Betty & Taylors Group
Rachel Fellow, Group Communications Director, Betty & Taylors Group
Philip Hanson, Non Exec Director, Betty & Taylors Group
Clare Morrow, Non Exec Director, Betty & Taylors Group
Berenice Smith, Non Exec Director, Betty & Taylors Group
Lesley Wild, Chair of the Board, Betty & Taylors Group

Sarah Cook, Director, Vaulkhard Group
Harry Vaulkhard, Director, Vaulkhard Group
Oliver Vaulkhard, Director, Vaulkhard Group

Sue Crimes, MD, Gusto

Morgan Davies, Founder / CEO, Barburrito

Stewart Davies, Group Operations Director, GG Hospitality
Ryan Giggs, Director, GG Hospitality
Gary Neville, Director, GG Hospitality

Jimmy del Giudice, Operations Director, Revolution Bars Group plc
Mark McQuater, CEO, Revolution Bars Group plc

Carlo Distefano, Chairman, San Carlo Group
Marcello Distefano, Managing Director, San Carlo Group

James Douglas, Co Owner / Director, Reds True BBQ
Scott Munro, Co Owner / Director, Reds True BBQ

Roy Ellis, Director, Mission Mars     
Neil Macleod, Director, Mission Mars
Dan Mullen, Director, Mission Mars
Joel Wilkinson, Director, Mission Mars
Adelaide Winter, Director, Mission Mars

John Ennis, Owner, Graffiti Spirit
Matthew, Farrell, Owner, Graffiti Spirit
Nick, Thomas, Owner, Graffiti Spirit

Ged Feltham, CEO, Leelex
Paul Lane, Managing Director, Leelex

Jobe Ferguson, Director, Blackdog Ballroom & The Liars Club
Lyndon Higginson, Director, The Liars Club
Ross Mackenzie, Director, Blackdog Ballroom & The Liars Club

Duncan Fisher, Owner, Apartment Group

Kit Graves, Director, Lake District Hotels
Charles Graves, Director, Lake District Hotels
Dani Hope, Sales & Marketing Director, Lake District Hotels

John Gyngell, Director, North Bar / North Brewing Company
Christian Townsley, Director, North Bar / North Brewing Company

Jamie Hawksworth, Owner, Pivovar / The Tapped Brew Co
Jonathon Holdsworth, Founder, Pivovar / The Tapped Brew Co

Chris Hill, Managing Director, New World Trading Company

Chris Hopkins, MD, Hydes Brewery

Matthew Jones, Managing Director, Jones Bar Group
Ben Jones, Operations & Finance Director, Jones Bar Group

Ban Kaewkraikhot, Owner / head Chef, Sukhothai

Kim Kaewkraikhot, Chairwoman, Thai Leisure Group
Martin Stead, Owner, Thai Leisure Group

Terry Laybourne, Owner, 21 Hospitality Group

William Lees Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees

Colin Manning, Managing Partner, 60 Hope St
Gary Manning, Chef Patron, 60 Hope St

Tomas Maunier, Director, Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill
Robert Melman, Director, Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill

Stephen Miles, General Manager, Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester

Paul Moran, Managing Director, Living Ventures
Jeremy Roberts, CEO, Living Ventures

Lucy Nelson, Sales & Marketing Director, Nelson Hotels
Andrew Nelson, Operations Director, Nelson Hotels

Joycelyn Neve, Managing Director, Seafood Pub Company

Michael O'Hare, Chef-Patron, The Man Behind the Curtain

Andrew Pern, Owner / Executive Chef, The Star at Harome/Star Inn The City

Steve Pilling, Co Owner, Damson Group
Simon Stanley, Co Owner, Damson Group

Jonathan Poole, Director, Red and Blue
Paddy Smith, Director, Red and Blue

Simon Potts, Managing Director, The Alchemist Bar & Restaurant

Oliver Robinson, Managing Director, Frederic Robinson

Simon Rogan, Co Owner, Umbel Restaurant Group

Franco Sotgiu, Co Owner, Solita

Chris Ure, Owner, Arc Inspirations
Martin Wolstencroft, Managing Director / Owner, Arc Inspirations

Gary Usher, Owner, Sticky Walnut

Steven Walker, CEO, Individual Restaurants

Marc Wilkinson, Chef Patron, Restaurant Fraiche


Kuits Solicitors is a leading commercial law firm based in Manchester. Ranked “Elite” for licensing in the Legal 500 directory, we work closely with clients to understand their needs and objectives, and provide tailored legal solutions.

Jelf Manson is one of Manchester's leading insurance brokers. Serving Manchester and the North West region for over 40 years, we put customer care at the heart of what we do. The close working relationships we develop with our clients enable us to create a comprehensive insurance proposition encompassing tailored cover as well as offering relevant, valuable additional services. We cater for a wide range of business insurance sectors and niches including restaurants and casual dining, indeed we have been insuring local restaurants and a number of national restaurant chains for over 15 years. As part of a wider group, Jelf Group Plc, we are also able to offer expert advice on healthcare, employee benefits and financial planning.

Metis Real Estate Advisors are an independent commercial real estate consultancy providing expert advice to occupiers, landlords, investors and developers across the UK. The Leisure team provides advice on some of the UK’s best known leisure schemes as well as providing acquisition strategy and advice to national, regional and local Operators.

The Russell Partnership is a strategic consultancy specialising in Catering, Conferencing, Events and Leisure markets, to deliver bespoke strategies, market and customer insight, creative design solutions, operational implementation and commercially viable results. The Partnership’s 25 years’ experience as well as their innovative and agile approach have earned them global recognition and an impressive client portfolio.

CGA Peach is a research and insight business focused on delivering market leading data and insight to pub, restaurant and hospitality operators. Their ability to sit between consumer, supply and demand dynamics is unique for the sector.

Supported by

First launched in 2012,  Fumo restaurants can be found in Manchester at 1 St Peter’s Square, in Birmingham and on St Martins Lane in London.  Fumo is part of the award-winning San Carlo Group which owns and operates seventeen outstandingly successful modern Italian restaurants across the UK and overseas in Qatar, with Bahrain and Dubai set to open soon. The independent family-owned business was founded in Birmingham in 1984 by Carlo Distefano and is recognised for its superb freshly prepared regional Italian food, great service and lively, friendly atmosphere. Each week the best quality ingredients are bought from the markets in Milan to ensure Carlo’s high standards, passion and insistence to ‘never compromise on quality’ are maintained. San Carlo Group restaurants epitomise all that is best in genuine Italian hospitality. More info on all group restaurants can be found at

JW Lees are a Manchester based, family owned brewery and pub company they also own Willougby’s, their own wines and spirits merchants. JW Lees manage some of the North West’s most popular pubs and are famous for brewing award winning beers. JW Lees are supporting the NRB Top 50 with their new range of craft canned beers, featuring Manchester Pale Ale, Moonraker, Manchester Star and Atomic.

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