In memoriam: Andrew Humble FCSI

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Andrew Humble FCSI, owner and director of Humble Arnold Associates, has passed away following a two-year battle with cancer

Humble Arnold Associates, Europe’s longest established professional kitchen design consultancy, has announced “with deep sorrow” that owner and director Andrew Humble FCSI passed away on Tuesday 28 August. Humble’s passing follows a two-year battle with cancer.

“Andrew and I have spent over 40 years developing a strong and vibrant business together and its continued success is a testament to the investment that he made in our team as well as with our clients,” says fellow owner and director Stephen Arnold FCSI. “His passing is a huge personal loss to us all here at Humble Arnold Associates. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Steph, his children and family at this time.”

Extremely proud

UK-headquartered design consultancy Humble Arnold Associates celebrated 50 years in the business in 2016. Andrew Humble and Stephen Arnold took over the business from Humble’s father, David, who had previously worked in the foodservice equipment industry as sales and export manager for Benham and Sons.

As David Humble Associates continued to grow its client network in the fledgling kitchen design consultancy sector, success, while hard-earned, flourished. Andrew Humble joined the firm two years after Arnold. Within a few years, Humble senior, who was set to retire, entrusted the business to his two young charges. In time, the firm renamed itself Humble Arnold Associates with Humble and Arnold becoming equal partners in the business in 1994. David Humble passed away 11 years ago. He was, Andrew Humble told me when I interviewed him for FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant magazine in 2016, “extremely proud” of what his son and Arnold have achieved.

By 1982 Humble and Arnold were running the company day-to-day from an office in St Albans, and had become shareholding directors of the company. Early clients included the British Airports Authority, the firm acting as design consultants for massive infrastructure projects, such as the Heathrow Airport Terminal Four development as well as public and staff catering for Terminals One, Two and Three. They also started working with US hotel chains such as InterContinental Hotels, honing expertise in the sector they are now world-renowned for.

By 1983 Arnold became responsible for developing business overseas, particularly the hotel and restaurant sector. The company’s big push was to take on work across Europe, Africa and the Middle East while Humble Arnold Associates was one of the first consulting firms to get exposure to projects in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. The firm recently won a project for Rocco Forte in Shanghai, China, a new territory for them. Currently overseas projects account for 50% of Humble Arnold’s work.

The company was also one of the pioneering businesses in food court design through its work on Wakefield Ridings Shopping Centre, one of the very first food courts in the UK. Much of the work Humble was responsible for in the company was in the business and industry sector

Experience and capability

“As a consultant, you’re selling your experience and capability, and you do that learning from each job,” Humble told me in 2016. “The debrief on the completion of each job gives you that continuous improvement.”

When asked to name standout projects he had worked on Humble was typically modest. “It’s hard to single out individual projects that are highlights. But I would probably cite an early hotel I did – the Forum Hotel in West London. Doing those kitchens gave me a lot more confidence for doing larger scale hotel kitchens.

“On the business industry side, I would single out our work with Goldman Sachs. We did about five jobs for them in the early 1990s, one of which was the UK headquarters in Fleet Street. An American investment bank is a demanding client but we’re still doing work for Goldman now, so hopefully that’s an indication that they valued what we did. We’ve enjoyed very much what we’ve done over the years.”

Humble’s work and commitment to his clients, and also his service to FCSI, were indeed highly valued and he will be a much-missed member of the foodservice community.

Michael Jones