History

A hospitality management revolution started in 1999.

The start of a new way to manage hospitality operations, powered by cloud technology

After years of founding successful restaurants in the UK, growing them to chains and selling them, Derek and Edwina Lilley had a lightbulb moment that was to change the way hospitality businesses would be run forever.

They saw then-emerging cloud technology could automate and streamline procurement, inventory and labour scheduling. And because the systems would be based on a demand forecast, it would eliminate unnecessary spend on stock and labour. No more spreadsheets and different versions of events - just one version of the truth, in the cloud, in real time.

Building a company and a robust hospitality solution from the ground up

Recognising this was no simple undertaking, Derek and Edwina sold their restaurants and recruited their first employee, Ben Hood. They travelled the world seeking the brightest tech talent who understood their vision for the global hospitality sector. Inventory management came first, followed by procurement. A full labour and payroll service came soon after - and the innovations keep on coming, making Fourth's the only end-to-end system in the world.

Growing and serving our customers worldwide

Seventeen years later, Ben, employee #1, is still our CEO, and has been joined by 399 colleagues in seven offices and 1,100 customers across the world in 60 countries. In 2015, NYC-based Insight Venture Partners acquired the majority shareholding in Fourth. We look forward to continuing to serve the needs of our customers by providing the best cloud-based operations, cost management and forecasting software for hospitality.

Sam Lilley, elder son of Derek and Edwina, was there from the beginning – literally. Now Fourth’s Director of Solutions Architects, he remembers the humble beginnings leading to the creation of restaurant groups that came to dominate the UK restaurant scene in the 1990s.


How it All Began

“Chompers was Mum and Dad’s first restaurant, created in the late 1970’s – the white building on the right in the picture. It was also where we all lived when I was born – in one bedroom on the top floor! The staff at Chompers were Mum and Dad, who between them waited on tables and ran the kitchen. They were helped by Nanny (my Mum’s Mum), who made the desserts and operated the till, and Uncle Ian (Dad’s brother) who was a Barman. I would have been upstairs asleep, blissfully unaware that below me a restaurant empire was being created!

“Never ones to dodge a challenge, my parents then bought the black and white building in the picture – and created the UK’s first ever Chinese restaurant run by English people!

"After that, they opened some very successful chains of restaurants across the UK, including Est Est Est and Piccolino’s as well as founding the Restaurant Magazine and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

Finally they created Fourth to help hospitality operators control costs and improve margins. My brother Max and I are proud to still be in the business, helping our customers get the best from our solutions”

Family history