There will be an extended handover from Tim to Catherine over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition. Tim has decided to become CEO at Four Seasons Health Care, the leading care home operator in the UK.

Three years ago during a major strategic review, Tim, Catherine and the rest of the Elior team developed a unique and compelling proposition for the contract catering market: to deliver great customer experiences.

This could only be delivered by motivated and well trained colleagues. The success that followed was recognised when Elior became the first contract caterer to be one of the Sunday Times Top 25 Best Big Companies to Work For, and won both the best UK customer service programme award from Training Journal and the top UK learning and development company award from Personnel Today.

This exceptional team development has enabled Elior to deliver great experiences to its customers. Elior was the first contract caterer to introduce daily satisfaction measurement nationally, and scores rose from 77% to 88%. This in turn led to client retention rates rising rapidly to the mid-nineties per cent – including £60m of contract extensions in just the last four months.

The last element to fall into place was an acceleration in new business wins. Every quarter over the last year has seen more new business than the previous one, culminating in £80m of new contracts being won in just the last four months – with a very full pipeline for the rest of 2014.

Tim Hammond said: “It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with the wonderful people at Elior, and I’m delighted by what the team have achieved. Now is the right time to hand over to Catherine, who I know - with the excellent team - will continue to deliver rapid growth by focusing on the whole customer experience.

“I have never left a job in which I have been as happy as this one. At the same time, I am very excited about returning to the care sector and the opportunity to help older people in need to get the care and support they deserve.”

Catherine Roe, who has been at Elior for nine years and has extensive experience of the sector, commented: “I am relishing the opportunity of leading Elior in the UK, continuing along the successful path set by Tim and working with the great people who make this organisation the best place to work in our industry.”