Page 11 - MarketTimesAugust2016
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  Market Times • August 2016
PROFILE
The market entrepreneur with a big heart
  JOHN PHILLIPS has certainly seen a lot of life.
In a long career he has waited on Mohammed Ali, run a food programme for the man who is now President of Namibia, managed hotels in Africa — and built up, then lost, then rebuilt a string of market- based catering businesses.
But John has never lost his desire to help others, and he and his children continue the good work in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where they have four successful businesses at Grainger Market.
John studied catering and hospitality in Newcastle, and it was when he was working at the Mayfair Hotel Ballroom in the late 1970s that he was asked to serve Mohammed Ali who was attending a sporting dinner. The late, great boxer was completely charming, according to John.
Then John heard the call of Africa where he built a successful career that included everything from ensuring food aid was delivered to the right people in what is now Namibia, to managing 370 staff at a top hotel in Zambia.
When John and his French wife returned to the UK for their children’s education, he was soon making a success of a small sandwich shop which he grew into a
business of bakery, coffee shops and sandwich suppliers and which was named as one of the top 100 inner city companies in the country.
It included two catering businesses in the market.
When the banking crisis hit in 2007 John lost the lot as the banks called in loans.
“It was a difficult time,” said John. But he was able to borrow money from customers and suppliers to start again. Newcastle City Council assigned him the lease to his two market businesses — Eats Cafe and Oliver’s Bistro, and he has rebuilt his business which now includes The French Oven, named UK Bakery of the Year and run by his daughter Emma-Claude, Sloppy
Joe’s Deli, also on the market, a bakery, and a sandwich business run by his son Darren Pierre.
“We employ 37 people and all the businesses are doing well,” John said.
As well as being great entrepreneurs, the family are strong believers in giving back to the community. John is liaison officer of the Newcastle NMTF Group. He works with the Job Centre to help young people into employment in his businesses.
And the family, led by Emma- Claude, feed the homeless. Last year they organised food donations from market traders and helped to feed 700 homeless people over Christmas.
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