Home / Announcements / Ian Mitchell co-founder of Bartlett Mitchell has passed away

Ian Mitchell co-founder of Bartlett Mitchell has passed away

Ian Mitchell, who co-founded Bartlett Mitchell (now known as BM Caterers) with Wendy Bartlett back in 2000 has passed away at the age of 74.

In a press statement, Bartlett said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ian Mitchell, co-founder of BM, a great friend, and one of the industry’s true greats.  

“Ian was a caterer through and through, with a genuine passion for people, service, and food. 

“He always held the highest standards, and everything that BM is today stems from the most generous, jolly, and loveliest gentleman you would ever be likely to meet.

“Ian’s love for life and his unwavering pride in our #bmfamily were evident in every interaction we shared. 

“He was a beacon of positivity and generosity, always quick with a smile and an encouraging word. I can imagine him urging us to raise a glass in his honour.”

Biography – Ian Mitchell

Born in July 1949 in West Bromwich, Birmingham, Mitchell grew up surrounded by hospitality as his grandparents owned a hotel in North Wales, where the family spent holidays.

At the age of 19, he left Haileybury College to do his National Diploma in Catering and Hotel Keeping at what was then Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University). Despite making his name in contract catering, he didn’t enter the sector until later in life and in fact started out in hotels.

After graduating, Mitchell became a Management Trainee at the Savoy Hotel Company, spending time in New York and Paris, including two years at Hôtel de Crillon.

Returning to UK, he joined Claridge’s hotel and spent the next decade in five-star hotel management including roles as Assistant Manager at the Capital and overseeing the opening of the InterContinental at Hyde Park Corner. He also worked for three years as Banqueting Manager at London’s Café Royal.

Mitchell moved into contract catering in 1985 when he started work at the Institute of London Underwriters with Gardner Merchant, at that time the company’s most prestigious City of London site.

In 1987, he moved to Sutcliffe Catering when he became an Area Manager overseeing its West London contracts. He eventually moved to Heathrow as General Manager of its British Airways operations – where his Deputy was Wendy Bartlett. Together, they took the contract into single sourcing for Sutcliffe from competitors Compass and Gardner Merchant.

Following a spell as Operations Director of Sutcliffe’s airport division, Mitchell (and Bartlett) both moved over to Compass, following their mentors Don Davenport and Mike Oldfield. Mitchell became MD of the city unit and, after a stint with BT, Bartlett became his Operations Director – which was around the time they first discussed the idea of starting their own business.

Mitchell stayed with Compass for five years until 1999. In 2000, he and Bartlett launched their own independent catering company, Bartlett Mitchell, focused on food and people.

They each put £20,000 into the company, setting aside £20,000 aside to live on, and didn’t pay themselves for the first two years while they got the business off the ground. They won their first contract on Christmas Eve in 2001.

For the last 24 years, Mitchell and Bartlett have led the company to become one of the leading independent caterers in the UK. The business has since grown to more than 100 sites, exceeding 1,000 employees.

Mitchell stepped back into a more ambassadorial role in 2018 – referring to himself simply as ‘founder’ while everyone else in the business affectionately called him ‘Mr Chairman’. He remained active in the business, regularly visiting sites and touching base with clients, customers and team members.

A keen West Brom supporter – his grandfather was the team’s doctor – Mitchell loved wine and regularly wrote wine blogs for the BM website. He married his wife Angela in 2009.  A keen animal lover, he was a puppy trainer for guide dogs for the blind.

Bartlett continued: “Reflecting on our journey together spanning more than 35 years, I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of calling Ian not just a business partner but also my dearest friend. 

“The memories we created and the support we offered each other are treasures I will cherish forever. We will miss him dearly, as will so many people from across our industry. 

“While we mourn Ian’s loss, let us also celebrate Ian’s remarkable life. His memory will continue to inspire us, guiding our actions as we carry forward his legacy at BM.

“Please join me in extending our deepest condolences to Ian’s family and particularly his wife Angela.

“For those who wish to share memories or extend condolences, we have set up an online condolences book where you can leave your thoughts and reflections. Your words will serve as a source of comfort to Ian’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.”




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