Ian Mitchell passes away

He launched BM Caterers with Wendy Bartlett back in 2000.

Ian Mitchell, co-founder of BM Caterers (formerly Bartlett Mitchell), has sadly passed away. He launched the caterer with his friend great Wendy Bartlett back in 2000.

“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,” said Bartlett.

“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 BM family 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.”

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. Despite making his name in contract catering, he didn’t enter the sector until later in life and in fact started out in hotels.

Mitchell moved into the sector 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 Bartlett. Together, they took the contract into single sourcing for Sutcliffe from competitors Compass and Gardner Merchant. 

They both eventually moved to Compass, then founded Bartlett Mitchell at the turn of the century. 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, the pair have led the company to become one of the leading independent caterers in the UK. 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.

“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,” continued Bartlett. “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 his 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 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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