Monday sees the start of a new era at SRA HQ. The front door revolves, as out steps Managing Director Mark Linehan who, in his five and a half years at the helm, helped grow the organisation from a just over 50 sites, to more than 6,000. Sustainability climbed up the agenda for the whole hospitality sector during this period and the SRA extended its influence way beyond traditional restaurants, as workplace, school and university caterers joined pubs, cafés, an airline and a train operator amongst its membership.

Next week will see Andrew Stephen walk through the door and into the hot seat, as CEO. He joins the SRA with an obsession with good food, a hungry belly and more than a decade of experience in communications and sustainability.

Andrew is exceptionally ambitious for the SRA, its members and the potential for positive change. While this is tempered with a healthy dose of realism, he’s starting work undaunted by the scale of the task ahead and already has a menufull of ideas to engage, inspire and enthuse both you, our Members and the public.

Excited by the challenge of engaging the whole industry and consumers alike, Andrew said: “The Sustainable Restaurant Association has already in its short history played a hugely significant role in guiding the UK hospitality industry along a progressive path to the point where it’s on the verge of being a world leader.

“While the challenges are greater than ever before, more people want to eat genuinely ‘good’ food when they dine out.  It’s our job to make sense of the complicated and complex issues, frame the debates and present solutions for chefs, restaurateurs and the public, so that together we can make the progressive, positive changes needed. Restaurants and food service businesses can do so much more than just feed people and are absolutely key to creating solutions to the challenges we face.”

You’ll be hearing a lot from Andrew and the SRA team in the coming months about a slight shift in our working model towards a more structured, thematic approach, turning the hot sustainability issues into discrete, manageable campaigns, with expert advice and support from our partner organisations.

Andrew added: “From 2017, we’re planning a lot more impact and we will be working flat out to help organise the issues, challenges and solutions for consumers and foodservice businesses, providing the platform for a progressive, ongoing conversation between the hospitality sector and the Great British dining public.”

Andrew’s experience is tailor-made for this new approach. Most recently, he was a director at 2degrees, the world’s largest platform for sustainable business, helping major food businesses and retailers overcome supply chain challenges. Prior to that, he worked for film production companies, social enterprises, and advertising agencies specialising in opening up the sustainability conversation to new audiences and new markets.

And Andrew’s keen to start getting to know Members, so do feel free to get in touch – [email protected]. Just maybe give him a week or two to get his feet under the table.