Overall ranking: 41 (NEW ENTRY)
Restaurateur ranking: 12 (NEW ENTRY)
Niall Howard is the CEO of the Hakkasan Group. The brand began life as a Chinese restaurant on Hanway Place, off London's Tottenham Court Road, opened by Alan Yau in 2001.
In 2008 Yau sold the business, together with a further Hakkasan in Istanbul and the teahouse concept Yauatcha to Tasameem (part of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) for £31m, and the Hakkasan Group was created. Howard became involved with the group in 2008 when he travelled to Abu Dhabi to conduct a financial review and was subsequently was asked by the owners to run the company in 2009.
The Hakkasan Group is seeing global expansion and could become one of the largest high-end restaurant groups in the world.
Niall Howard - Career guide
Niall Howard was appointed CEO of Hakkasan Limited in July 2009 to manage the continuing operations of the company and to lead it through a sustainable and successful future of strong performance and investment.
He has 30 years' commercial experience from working for blue chip companies in a diverse range of industry sectors. He has held several director roles, including time spent in North America, and has his own consultancy business - Clearwater Consulting.
He has held executive roles at William Grant & Sons, RBS, Amerada Hess Limited, Standard Life Investments, and Hometech Integration. Niall is also a director of Down's Syndrome Scotland and is on the Audit Committee of professional body the CIMA.
Howard has a track record in business transformations and performance management and is a conference speaker on managing people and change. Yet it seems his professional life has come full circle. He says: "My first full-time job was training to become a demi chef de rang at the five-star Hotel Bellevue in Baden-Baden in the seventies. Little did I know that I would be privileged to be leading such a prestigious restaurant brand after such a long and successful career mainly in the corporate world."
Niall Howard - What we think
Howard has been quick to make his mark at the Hakkasan Group. His strategy for the company is to create a global business with four international hubs: The Far East, Middle East, Europe and the Americas, while also developing other brands alongside the Hakkasan restaurants.
Howard has fulfilled this by opening the Hakkasan New York (2012), while the Hakkasan San Francisco was due to open in December 2012. It looks like 2013 will be another momentous year, with the Sake no Hana Dubai opening in January, Hakkasan Doha (a management deal) due for the first quarter and the Hakkasan Las Vegas opening in April 2013. Both The Hakkasan Shanghai and Los Angeles are expected in June 2013. The group already has a presence in Miami, Abu Dhabi and Mumbai where they operate Hakkasan restaurants under management deals.
Meanwhile Howard is also taking London by storm, and opened three destinations in the capital in 2012. In September 2012 Hakkasan Group launched Chrysan, a Japanese restaurant in partnership with Japan's three-Michelin-starred chef - Yoshihiro Murata. Located within Broadgate West in the heart of the City, Chrysan was the first of two Hakkasan Group restaurants to open within close proximity to Italian restaurant L'Anima, to meet Howard's intention of creating a culinary hub on the border of East London and the Square Mile.
In December 2012 the group opened HKK, a bespoke Chinese dining experience that will offer a single tasting menu (with a vegetarian option) of modern Chinese and Cantonese delicacies created by Chef Tong Chee Hwee, the Michelin-starred chef of Hakkasan restaurants. HKK will be located adjacent to Chrysan.
Meanwhile he has augmented the original Hakkasan Hanway Place with Ling Ling Late Lounge, a late-night concept combining music and a signature menu of small eats and dim sun until 1.30am. Ling Ling opened in November 2012. And he has added the Ni Ju San bar to the London Sake No Hana which he bought in 2011.
Howard has shown that he is not afraid to change or innovate. With his strategy of identifying and creating culinary hubs and celebrating sophisticated food from Japan and China he looks set to make a firm global footprint in 2013.