JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson and serial entrepreneur David Page were named Industry Icons at CGA’s prestigious annual Hero & Icon Awards in London on Wednesday (21 November).
John Hutson is recognised after 27 years leading Wetherspoon’s remarkable growth—from a 20-strong chain when he joined from Allied Domecq to a group that now has more than 800 pubs around the UK and Ireland. After starting out as an area manager, he progressed to chief operating officer, managing director and, from 2004, chief executive. Alongside founder and chairman Tim Martin—himself named an Industry Icon in 2014—Hutson has steered the evolution of Wetherspoon’s offer, successfully moving it into breakfast, craft beer, coffee, accommodation and many more new channels, and exponentially growing sales to £1.7bn a year.
Presenting him with the Industry Icon Award, CGA vice president Peter Martin said: “John has spent a quarter of a century and more at the very heart of an organisation that has built and nurtured perhaps the most iconic, disruptive and trailblazing brand on the high street. It’s his meticulous attention to detail, and his eagerness to find new ideas and best practice in the wider market, that set the Wetherspoon way and John Hutson apart.”
David Page started out in restaurants as a pot washer and has become one of the most successful and influential operators in casual dining. Having built a group of franchised PizzaExpress restaurants, he joined forces with two fellow entrepreneurs, Luke Johnson and Hugh Osmond, to acquire the business from founder Peter Boizot and float it on the stock market, then leading its growth from 63 sites to 250 when it was sold. More recently he has founded both Clapham House, a group that managed brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen; and Fulham Shore, where he has overseen the rapid rollout of Franco Manca and The Real Greek.
Peter Martin said: “Expelled from school and sacked from various early jobs—David’s route to the top had a less than promising start. But in PizzaExpress he built arguably the best known and most successful restaurant chain to come out of the UK—and now he’s at it again with Franco Manca. He believes restaurants should be fun for customers and staff alike: he certainly always seems to be having fun, and he’s made a lot of British diners very happy too.”
Hutson and Page were celebrated at CGA’s Hero & Icon Awards dinner in London on Wednesday 21 November, following this year’s Peach 2020 Conference. They join an exclusive Hall of Fame that includes 24 other Icon Award recipients: Tim Bacon, John Barnes, Andy Bassadone, Peter Boizot, Rupert and Jo Clevely, Chris Corbin, Gerry Ford, Karen Forrester, James Horler, Tony Hughes, Bob Ivell, Alan Jackson, Karen Jones, Phillip Kaye, Jeremy King, Simon Kossoff, Tim Martin, Julian Metcalfe, Thomasina Miers, Ian Neill, Robin Rowland, Steve Richards and Mike Tye.
CGA’s 2018 Hero & Icon Awards and 2020 Conference are supported by platinum partners Asahi, Bookatable by Michelin, Caterer.com, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coffer Corporate Leisure, CPL Online, Diageo, Fourth, NatWest, Omnivore, Treasury Wine Estates and Zonal; and by network partners Casual Dining, Chapman Ventilation, Fishbowl, Odgers Berndtson, Reynolds, RSM and Yumpingo.