Welcome Break has become the latest roadside services operator to bypass the ban on advertising to motorists.
In a deal with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the 24-strong motorway services group will change the signage at 19 of its UK sites to read “Welcome Break KFC”.
The switch, which will happen over the next three weeks, follows Roadchef’s changeover to “Roadchef Costa Coffee” last week.
Both groups registered new company names to get round a law that bans roadside ads on the grounds that they distract drivers.
Welcome Break chief executive George Charters dismissed the theory. He said: “The advertising of a few key brands isn’t a distraction, although we wouldn’t want to see a situation like America, where roadsides are crammed with billboards.”
The group hopes the move will significantly boost turnover. Charters added: “We advertised KFC at the top of a disused water tower at Leicester Forest East service station and sales went up by 10-15%.”
But the Highways Agency remains unconvinced. A spokesman said: “The regulations are designed to prevent motorway service areas becoming distractions in their own right. Branded advertising would hamper clarity and could be distracting.”
Meanwhile, other leading operators believe that change is long overdue. Gerry Carroll, managing director of Little Chef, said: “The law is out of date, out of touch, and should be out on its ear. It should reflect changing attitudes to the consumer – attitudes that no longer patronise the public or tell them what is good for them.”
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