Payne has worked in the hospitality sector for 46 years, starting his working life in the licensed trade behind the bar at 19. He developed his career working at a number of blue chip companies and went on to found Stonegate in 2010. The pubco owns and manages 693 sites and employs more than 13,000 people.
With his bar to board philosophy, Payne has shown strong commitment to promoting meritocracy in the business and has supported the careers of many talented leisure industry professionals. He is also a staunch supporter of apprenticeships and has highlighted the wealth of opportunities pubs can offer ambitious trainees.
Pub sector champion
In his role as chairman of Stonegate, he champions the great British pub and the millions of jobs the sector creates, as well as the significant contribution that pubs make to the local and national economy.
Commenting on receiving his honour, he said: “I am deeply honoured to receive a MBE from the Queen. I thank the many thousands of talented people who have helped me build a successful career in the trade I love. God bless the great British pub.”
He told the Morning Advertiser: "Our apprenticeships are part of our bar to board programme, we’ve had 200 general managers that have come through it.”
Payne said that when current home secretary Sajid Javid visited the pubco’s Slug and Lettuce in Bromsgrove and met the GM there who has come up through the company’s training schemes, he was so impressed that he invited Payne and chief executive Simon Longbottom to meet him to discuss this kind of employee development further.
“Our GM in Bromsgrove runs a business with a £1 million pound turnover, which employs 30 people. When Sajid Javid met him he was really impressed.
“I’m a passionate believer in giving people opportunities to build their career because that’s what I did, and it’s what Simon [Longbottom] and Suzanne Baker [the pubco’s commercial director] did. We all started behind a bar.
“If people are prepared to work hard and accept that this is a tough industry in terms of the hours, then they will do well because we are a true meritocracy."
He added: “Since the award was announced I’ve had hundreds of people contacting me to say ‘you gave me my opportunity. It’s been really humbling.”
Further honours for services to the hospitality industry included an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for William McCurrach, head of the food curriculum at City of Glasgow College, and Paula McIntyre for services to the food, drink and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.
Awards were made to 1,057 people, with 71% of them for people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity.
Other notable honours include former footballer and manager Kenny Dalglish who received a knighthood, actress Emma Thompson who collected a damehood for services to drama, Professor Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, who was recognised with a damehood for services to the study of classical civilisations, and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro who has been given a knighthood for services to literature.