Now in its eighth year, the Kuits NRB Top Fifty is an exciting power list of the North’s most significant and influential hospitality operators. The list features big names and rising stars, including six new entries and two re-entries, and covers 212 brands, 1527 sites and over 22,840 employees, demonstrating the strength of the region’s hospitality scene.



The Kuits NRB Top Fifty 2019 has been announced today at Northern Restaurant & Bar 2019, the hospitality trade exhibition in Manchester. Three special award winners were also revealed, highlighting those operators who have enjoyed a particular stellar year.



Thom Hetherington, CEO of organisers Holden Media, says “It’s been another strong year for the North’s leading operators, driving the industry forward with a balance of expansion, innovation and consolidation. Recent data from CGA show that the restaurant and bar scene in the major Northern cities is far outperforming London, and I think that a combination of lower costs and a better lifestyle mean more and more operators are choosing to build their businesses in the North.”



The three special achievement awards were presented to Chris Hill of New World Trading Company, John Gyngell & Christian Townsley from North Brew Co and Nisha Katona of Mowlgi Street Food.



  • Chris Hill, New World Trading Company

Following a further £5.6m investment from NatWest, NWTC has continued an impressive roll-out of over six sites a year. The company continues to build a strong collection of accolades as well as being a fixture in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.


  • John Gyngell & Christian Townsley, North Brew Co

Their level of sustained commercial and critical progress in 2018/19 feels both relentless and organic and has been achieved whilst remaining an integral, much-loved part of Leeds’ food and drink community and become huge advocates for ACF in Yorkshire.


  • Nisha Katona, Mowgli Street Food

Nisha’s latest openings include Manchester’s University Green development earlier this year, with sites confirmed in Sheffield, Cardiff and Leicester and more expansion plans in the pipeline. Nisha was also awarded an MBE for services to the food industry in 2018.




New entries in 2019 include the founders and directors of Daniel Thwaites, Evuna, Tattu, Ossett Brewery Pub Company, Inn Collection Group, and Gracious Development Group. In addition both Gusto and Revolution Bars re-entered the list due to impressive performance under their new management teams.



A panel of Northern hospitality experts in the fields of hospitality finance, accountancy, property, law and consultancy deliberated and cogitated through hours of research and pored over hundreds of pages of judging notes.



As specialist legal and commercial advisors to the leisure and hospitality sector, Kuits has been proud to support and judge these awards for a number of years and this year have further bolstered their commitment by being involved in what is now the Kuits NRB Top Fifty Awards.



“The hotly-anticipated list provides an important platform for the most exciting and influential new and established operators in the hospitality industry – a sector that is continuing to thrive in the UK, harnessing creativity, innovation and collaboration to propel brands forward amidst the increased political and economic pressures we’ve seen of late. We are delighted to present here those operators we feel are really making waves in what is a constantly evolving market. Thank you for helping to make the North the best place to eat, sleep and drink in the UK,” said Felicity Tulloch, Joint Head of Licensing, Kuits.



The Kuits NRB Top Fifty 2019 is sponsored by Biffa, Bruntwood, CGA, CPL Online, Jelf, Metis Real Estate, NatWest and RSM UK and is supported by JW Lees.




The invitation only Kuits NRB Top Fifty awards reception took place at 3pm on Tuesday 19 March 2019 at Northern Restaurant & Bar. NRB19 provides an opportunity for leading operators, suppliers and industry figures to meet, speak and do business. From Liverpool to Leeds, the North East to North West and the Lake District to the Peak District, NRB19 brings the cream of the hospitality industry to Manchester Central on 19-20 March.



Kuits NRB Top Fifty 2019

(listed alphabetically by surname and grouped by company)

Adele Ashley, Owner, 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

Gary Roberts, Operations Director, Amber Taverns

Richard Bailey, Director, Daniel Thwaites

Craig Bancroft, Managing Director, Northcote

Lisa Goodwin Allen, Executive Chef, 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

Sarah Cook, Director, Vaulkhard Group

Harry Vaulkhard, Director, Vaulkhard Group

Oliver Vaulkhard, Director, Vaulkhard Group

Morgan Davies, Founder / CEO, Barburrito

Carlo Distefano, Chairman, San Carlo Group

Marcello Distefano, Managing Director, San Carlo Group

Sean Donkin, Managing Director, Inn Collection Group

Ian Goulding, Chairman, Inn Collection Group

Keith Liddell, Executive Deputy Chairman, Inn Collection Group

Jane Dowler, Founder, Evuna

Roy Ellis, Director, Mission Mars     

Neil Macleod, Director, Mission Mars

Joel Wilkinson, Director, Mission Mars

Adelaide Winter, Director, Mission Mars

John Ennis, Owner, Graffiti Spirit

Matthew, Farrell, 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

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER 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


James Hitchen, Founder, East Coast Concepts

Guy Hitchen, Founder, East Concepts

Chris Hopkins, MD, Hydes Brewery

Marko Husak, Founder, Bundobust

Mayur Patel, Founder, Bundobust

Adam Jones, Managing Director, Tattu

Drew Jones, Marketing Director, Tattu

Matthew Jones, Managing Director, Roxy Leisure

Ben Jones, Managing Director, Concept Taverns

Ashley Kollakowski, Rose Four Group

Simon Stevens, Rose Four Group

Barry Ladhar, Crafted Projects

Michael Ladhar, Crafted Projects

Bob Lawson, Chairman, Ossett Brewery Pub Company

Jamie Lawson, Owner, Ossett Brewery Pub Company

Terry Laybourne, Owner, 21 Hospitality Group

William Lees Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees

Simon Lees Jones, Director, JW Lees

Daniel Murphy, Director, Gracious Development Group

Ryan McMahon, Director, Gracious Development Group

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER Nisha Katona, Founder, Mowgli Street Food

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

Rob Pitcher, CEO, Revolution Bars 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, Robinson’s Brewery

William Robinson, Director, Robinson’s Brewery

Simon Rogan, Co Owner, Umbel Restaurant Group

Matt Snell, Managing Director, Gusto

Chris Soley, Chief Executive, Camerons Brewery

David Soley, Chairman, Camerons Brewery

Chris Ure, Owner, Arc Inspirations

Martin Wolstencroft, Managing Director / Owner, Arc Inspirations

Gary Usher, Owner, Elite Bistros

Steven Walker, CEO, Individual Restaurants

James Warburton, James’s Places

Andrew Wildsmith, Founder, Wildsmith Hotels