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Robyn Jones - Set up £80m turnover catering firm Charlton House in 1991
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Name: Robyn Jones Nationality: British Companies run: Charlton House catering At the start of the recession in the early 1990s, former dinner lady Robyn Jones lost her day job. It was the catalyst moment for a project that would turn into the biggest organically-grown catering company in the UK On a redundancy cheque of £2,500, and a weekly government enterprise allowance, Robyn and husband Tim famously started the business from their home. As she tells cmypitch, 1991 was not the ideal time to start the business, but start the business they did, and the rest is history. The parallels for entrepreneurs starting out today, which Jones touches upon, are clear. The growth of Charlton House was rapid; in 1994 the company changed its own offices three times. By 2007, they had a turnover of over £55m. Jones explains some of the obvious plus sides to rapid growth, as well as some of the challenges. Until the acquisition of square-mile caterer Chester Boyd in May 2007, the growth was entirely organic. There'd been no seeking of finance, and no takeovers. Yet Jones explains why the acquisition had clear value, with Charlton House presiding over 1,700 staff nationwide, and 150 catering contracts including Her Majesty's Treasury, Sony and T-Mobile. Charlton House is also a company that has been recognised for numerous awards. Jones tells cmypitch the secrets to some of those accolades, and explains the value in quality of produce (having a Michelin-starred chef at a catering company goes a long way). It's also something the couple have managed to grow with two children along for the ride. According to Jones, being a 'mumtreneur', which any entrepreneur with family can testify to, is all about balance.

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