North’s hospitality power list revealed in NRB Top Fifty

Tony Lyons, Kuits; Jobe Ferguson, Black Dog Group; Anni Opong, Arc Inspirations; Simon Potts , The Alchemist, Lyndon Higginson, Liars Club; Thom Hetherington, NRB

The most significant and influential people in the north of England’s hospitality sector have been revealed in the seventh annual list of the NRB Top Fifty.

Run by the organisers of the Northern Restaurant & Bar show in Manchester, the power list for 2018 features nine companies becoming new entries alongside long-established names.

Special achievement awards have been awarded to Jobe Ferguson, Ross Mackenzie, and Lyndon Higginson from Black Dog and Liars Club, The Alchemist’s CEO Simon Potts, and Chris Ure and Martin Wolstencroft from bar and restaurant operator Arc Inspirations.

Thom Hetherington, CEO of organiser Holden Media, said: “Despite tremors in the casual dining market, our NRB Top 50 entrants have shown no shortage of ambition. Almost every one of the fifty has grand plans for expansion and new sites, and I am sure that 2018/19 will see a ‘rise of the indies’ which will play to the strengths of our great northern operators.”

The list was created by a panel of northern hospitality experts in the fields of hospitality finance, accountancy, property, law and consultancy. It was produced this year in association with Kuits Solicitors and sponsored by CGA, Jelf Group, Metis Real Estate, RSM UK and The Russell Partnership.

It was announced as part of day one of Northern Restaurant & Bar at Manchester Central yesterday. The show continues today: visit

Pictured above are Tony Lyons from Kuits, Jobe Ferguson, Arc Inspirations managing director Anni Opong, Simon Potts, Lyndon Higginson and Thom Hetherington.

NRB Top Fifty
(listed alphabetically by surname and grouped by company)

Sax Arshad, Director, Zanna Group
Haz Arshad, Director, Zanna Group

Adele, Ashley, Owner / Head Chef, Filmore & Union

Paul Askew, Chef Patron, The Art School

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

James Baer, Managing Director, Amber Taverns (new entry)
Gary Roberts, Operations Director, Amber Taverns (new entry)

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
Phil Dearden, Finance Director, Bravo Inns

Maurice Camm, James’ Places (new entry)
Helen Warburton, James’ Places (new entry)
James Warburton, James’s Places (new entry)

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

Morgan Davies, Founder / CEO, Barburrito

Stewart Davies, Group Operations Director, GG Hospitality
Ryan Giggs, Director, GG Hospitality
Gary Neville, Director, GG Hospitality
Michael O’Hare, Creative Director, GG Hospitality and Chef Patron, The Man Behind the Curtain

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

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

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

James Hitchen, Founder, East Coast Concepts (new entry)
Guy Hitchen, Founder, East Concepts (new entry)

Chris Hopkins, MD, Hydes Brewery

Marko Husak, Founder, Bundobust (new entry)
Mayur Patel, Founder, Bundobust (new entry)

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

Ashley Kollakowski, Rose Four Group (new entry)
Simon Stevens, Rose Four Group (new entry)

Barry Ladhar, Crafted Projects (new entry)
Michael Ladhar, Crafted Projects (new entry)

Terry Laybourne, Owner, 21 Hospitality Group

William Lees Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees

Nisha Katona, Founder, Mowgli Street Food (new entry)

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

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

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

Chris Soley, Chief Executive, Camerons Brewery (new entry)
David Soley, Chairman, Camerons Brewery (new entry)

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

Andrew Wildsmith, Founder, Wildsmith Hotels (new entry)

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