The UK catering equipment industry has been paying tribute to C&C Group founder, John Kitchin, who sadly passed away on Sunday 27 January.
John was a highly respected figure in the sector, having held many different roles throughout his 60-year career.
After completing RAF National Service, he first worked in several hotels and hospitals as catering manager including the Imperial Hotel Llandudno, the Deauville Hotel in Normandy, Heaton Park in Manchester, St George’s Hospital in Barking and Christchurch Hospital in Hampshire, before moving to Chester in 1960.
John became group catering manager for the Chester & District Hospitals including the old Deva Hospital, the Chester Royal Infirmary, City Hospital, Barrowmore, Crossley and Ellesmere Port in 1960.
After 21 years’ service of Chester hospitals he left the NHS and started C&C Catering Equipment Limited. It was a risk, but John saw the opportunity and decided to strike out on his own.
Having been an important part of the catering equipment industry, with a career that included being the National Chairman of HCA (1972-1974) and appearing on the front cover of Caterer & Housekeeper (now The Caterer), John was delighted to receive the “Past National Chair” medal from the HCA in 2016.
Having handed over the management of C&C Catering Equipment to his son Peter in 1996, John continued to play an active role in the business and was hugely proud to see the company grow from its original location to the group of successful businesses it is today.
Always a strong family business, the company now includes John’s grandchildren Matthew and Jessica, alongside a team of over 40 dedicated staff, many with more than 30 years of service – a testament to the type of company that he created.
Tributes have been widespread from across the industry and all have consistently praised John’s warmth, professionalism and willingness to help.
CEDA director general Adam Mason said: “John was a great man and leaves an incredible legacy; a family and business that he must have been so wonderfully proud of.
“On behalf of all at CEDA, Mr Kitchin will always be remembered with warmth, smiles, fondness and gratitude for what he gave to the association and the Industry.”
On Twitter, many in the industry responded to the news by describing John as “a true gentleman”, with others such as Steve Loughton writing: “John was a family man who lived life to the full. I loved visiting him when I was with Garland. He came to Canada on a dealer trip and wowed everybody because he was the beautiful combination of English gent and cheeky chappie to boot. We will all miss him.”
While on LinkedIn, the sad announcement prompted many more condolences, with RH Hall area manager Simon Parry noting that John was a “pioneer of the industry; it was a pleasure to have met him” and Synecore MD Paul Thomas said: “I remember as a 18 year old ‘southern softy’, trying to sell refrigeration products into C&C. John was always respectful, despite my young age and I’m sure most of the time couldn’t understand my southern accent! Then through the many years, I would always enjoy the chats when calling into the office.”
John is survived by his wife of 63 years Enid, together with children Peter, Linda and David, 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.