Stuart Campbell has retired from full-time roles in the catering equipment industry.
Latterly vice president of sales UK and Ireland for Specifi, he will now work in a consultancy capacity for the design software specialist.
After leaving Newcastle Art School, Campbell began his career with the Noble Organisation in South Shields as a catering equipment designer for its night clubs and amusement centres, designing all of the catering operations.
He then moved on to Newcastle dealer JBS Northern as design director before being poached by Buttress Ltd, moving to London to work for its Italian catering equipment arm and Maidaid. There he worked with many top chefs providing complete kitchen solutions, starting as kitchen designer through to being design manager then general manager of the business. He recalled: “In the early days we handled such brands as Ambach and Molteni.”
When Buttress’ owner sold the business he joined Fatboys as design and project director, moving to the USA in 2003 to run an American subsidiary of the dealer called Fatboy’s Inc LLC for 5 years.
Subsequently he returned to the UK to start quotation platform CaterQuotes, before serving as MD of Nayati Cooking Ltd from 2013 until late 2014.
Next he started Fire and Ice and ran the company as director, selling unique products into the UK market, before he was headhunted to start Specifi in the UK over 2 years ago.
Campbell reflected: “I have worked in the industry all my working life and have seen many changes but the thing that has been common throughout is the people. There seems to be a common thread where once you are employed in this great industry it is difficult to move on to other employment within other industries.”
He continued: “One of favourite memories was working for Buttress as design manager and installing one of the first bespoke enamel and brass cooking suites for Raymond Blanc at his famous Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons restaurant in Oxford.
“After finishing installation we were all invited to eat at the restaurant, and, being undecided on which dessert to have at the end of our exquisite meal, Raymond said: ‘Leave it to me,’ and he arrived back at the table with a sample of every one of the 13 desserts on the menu, allowing me to try each one. It was heaven – an exceptional moment!
“This was not the only time I sampled exceptional food by exceptional chefs. Handling Molteni bespoke stoves meant we worked with many top chefs including Rick Stein.
“I remember when I returned from working in the US with CaterQuotes, my first meeting was with Steve Loughton, who was not only a mentor but had been boss at Buttress. He became my first UK customer and started the ball rolling, for which I will always be grateful.”
Looking back on the changes he’s seen in the industry during his career, he commented: “When I returned from working in my distributor business in the States, bringing back CaterQuotes, getting the industry to change from Excel and Word and to trust and use a completely new software was a challenge.
“However within 4 years the programme became industry standard through lots of leg-work and many miles on the road. Many companies are saving time and money thanks to moving them into the 21st century. The next step was to get Specifi to the same standard, which is well on the way and I leave them in good hands.”
Campbell’s former role at Specifi has been filled by Mark Witherington, who will now work alongside more than 300 manufacturers from 35 countries which have commissioned the firm to create, maintain and distribute their key data to internationally recognised standards, including CAD and BIM compliant Revit.
But Campbell’s final thoughts on the catering equipment sector were: “The biggest thing I will miss is the comradery at the industry events from CESA, CEDA and FCSI to exhibitions. The opportunity to mix and meet with friends old and new has always been a pleasure.
“I could not have worked in a better industry and I want to thank everyone who I ever worked with or was a customer for making my time in this industry great. I retire with many memories and a whole host of great dinner party stories from over the years.”