Experienced hospitality leader, Alistair Darby, appointed as CEO of Sir Richard Sutton Limited (SRSL)

Posted in News, People on 12 September, 2023

Alistair Darby, a proven business leader with a strong understanding of hospitality and family-owned businesses, has been appointed as the new CEO of Sir Richard Sutton Limited (SRSL), the group which owns luxury hotels, farming and property interests in the UK and USA.

He will start in the new role on 1st December, after a comprehensive handover process, and succeed current CEO Christopher Lacey who is stepping down after 12 successful years.

Alistair has built substantial experience at major companies including the pub operator and brewer Marston’s PLC; hospitality and restaurant group Mitchells & Butlers plc; Wales’ largest pub and beer brand S.A. Brain & Company Ltd; and the wellbeing healthcare firm Newson Health Group.

He is currently Chair of the Wales Business Council.

Alistair has a strong track record of running and transforming businesses, as well as leading dynamic teams. Most recently, he was responsible for doubling turnover and profit as CEO of Newson Health Group, a menopause clinic.

Prior to that, joining in 2018 as CEO, Alistair helped to save the independence of S.A. Brain & Company – Wales’ best-known hospitality brand with 160 pubs, 1400 employees and £97m annual turnover – during the first year of the Covid pandemic when the sector was under enormous pressure.

Alistair was CEO of FTSE-250 group Mitchells and Butlers, from 2012 to 2015, overseeing over £4bn of assets, with 1,800 restaurants and pubs, and 43,000 employees across the UK. While in the role, he refocused retail businesses, transformed digital capabilities with substantial IT investment and grew revenues and profitability markedly.

Between 2002 and 2012 Alistair also held various Board level roles at Marston’s PLC, the FTSE-250 company with over 2,000 pubs, five breweries and an extensive distribution and customer service network employing 10,000 staff. Alistair was Chief Operating Officer of the group, Managing Director of Marston’s Pub Company and Managing Director of Marston’s Beer Company.

Alistair’s educational background includes a degree at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he achieved a Double First and Scholarship in Archaeology and Anthropology (part 1) and Land Economy.

Commenting on the appointment, Chairman of SRSL Peter Wyman said: “I have been deeply impressed with Alistair’s experience at the highest levels of business, his acumen as a transformational leader and his expertise in hospitality. These skills, and Alistair’s knowledge of working within family-owned businesses such as SRSL, will be invaluable as he helps us to grow the group further in the medium-to-longer term. We wish Alistair many congratulations but also thank Christopher Lacey, the outgoing CEO, who has delivered so much value during his tenure.”

Alistair Darby added: “It is an honour to be joining a diversified group with such a strong track record in the hospitality, farming and property sectors. I am confident that our talented team will continue to deliver further growth in these exciting areas and I am looking forward to the immense challenge of the years ahead.”

Christopher Lacey, who led the transformation of SRSL from a traditional, landed estate family office in 2012 to a modern, operationally diversified commercial organisation with best-in-class businesses in the hospitality, farming and rural, as well as real estate sectors, added: “It has been a privilege to lead SRSL over the last decade and I have no doubt that Alistair and the senior team will lead the group from strength to strength in the coming years. I leave with many happy memories and achievements and will follow the group’s future success with great interest.”

About SRSL
Sir Richard Sutton Limited (SRSL) manages and owns a portfolio of trading assets and businesses in the hotels, property and farming sectors, including Sutton Hotel Collection and The Athenaeum Hotel. Its purpose is to act as an honourable, long-term custodian, protect the heritage created over past centuries and, with integrity, enhance the legacy for future generations in a sustainable and responsible way.

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