Whitbread PLC


01582 424 200


http://www.whitbread.co.uk (Opens in New Window)


Whitbread is the UK’s largest hospitality company. It started life in the 18th century as a brewer but has redefined itself in the current century by focusing on budget hotels, pub-restaurants and restaurants, and coffee shops.

Its operates the biggest budget hotel chain in the UK, Premier Inn, and the vast majority of its pub-restaurants and restaurants (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns) are co-located with the hotels.

Its Costa Coffee business is the UK's largest coffee shop chain.



  • 1742: Samuel Whitbread starts brewing beer in London. The group grows into a national brand by 1868 and moves its operations to Chiswell Street in 1750 but ceases brewing there in 1976. The venue becomes a conference and banqueting centre but is sold in 2005.
  • 1889: Whitbread becomes a limited company
  • 1948: Whitbread becomes a public company under Colonel Bill Whitbread.
  • 1962: The group acquires the Thresher off-licence business.
  • 1974: The first Beefeater restaurant opens.
  • 1979: Whitbread opens its first Brewers Fayre pub-restaurant.
  • 1982: Whitbread opens Pizza Hut in a joint venture with PepsiCo of the USA. PepsiCo spins off its restaurants in 1997 to create Tricon Global Restaurants which is renamed Yum! Brands in 2002.
  • 1985: Whitbread signs a franchise agreement with Carlson Hospitality of the USA to develop the TGI Friday’s restaurant brand in the UK.
  • 1987: Whitbread opens its first Travel Inn.
  • 1990: The group buys Berni Inns from Grand Metropolitan.
  • 1994: The group buys the Maredo chain of Argentinean steakhouses in Germany.
  • 1995: Whitbread buys Scott’s Hotels for £183m from its Canadian parent, gaining the UK Marriott franchise along with 12 Marriott and four Courtyard by Marriott hotels to become the UK’s third largest hotel group after Forte and Thistle/Mount Charlotte. It rebrands much of its estate under the Marriott flag and its Country Club Hotels and Resorts division is renamed Whitbread Hotel Company.The group also buys David Lloyd Leisure (for £201m), Curzons fitness clubs and CB Costa Brothers (paying £12.3m for 41 owned and franchised coffee shops). Disposals include 137 pubs to Pubmaster for £12.3m and 70 freeholds to United Breweries for £6.9m.
  • 1996: Whitbread buys two restaurant groups - the Pelican Group for £133m in June and BrightReasons for £46m in November. The deal nets it almost 300 restaurants.
  • 1997: Whitbread sells its three-star unbranded hotels and other non-core businesses.
  • 1999: The group buys Racquets and the Healthtrack Group
  • January 2000: Whitbread buys the Swallow Group for £578m in a deal that includes 38 Swallow hotels and 183 pubs which its sells in June to Enterprise Inns for £118m.
  • May 2000: The group buys Allied Domecq Retailing in a deal that brings it around 3,500 pubs and restaurants, a 50% stake in the First Quench off-licence business and a 23.75% stake in Britannia Soft Drinks. To comply with monopoly regulations, it sells the Whitbread Beer Company to Belgian firm Interbrew for £400m and also offloads the off-licence business.
  • March 2001: Whitbread sells its 3,000-strong pubs and bars division for £1.6b to Morgan Grenfell. They become the Laurel Pub Company.
  • May 2002: The group sells its 153 Pelican and BrightReasons restaurants to a management buy-in team, Tragus Holdings, for £25m. They include the Café Rouge and Bella Pasta brands and a brasserie division. Whitbread also sells its 12 Curzons fitness clubs to Fitness First for £6m.
  • July 2003: Whitbread sells 13 three-star Swallow hotels and the Swallow brand name for £57m to the London Inn Group. The remaining Swallow properties are rebranded as Marriott or Renaissance hotels. During the year it also buys Cannons Health and Fitness in the Netherlands.
  • July 2004: Whitbread buys the 132-strong Premier Lodge chain of budget hotels for £505m from the Spirit Group to become the UK’s largest hotel operator. The deal includes 19 adjoining pub-restaurants, which are rebranded as Brewers Fayres. The entire hotel estate is rebranded Premier Travel by February 2005.
  • November 2004: Whitbread exits the three-star hotel market with the sale of its remaining11 Courtyard by Marriott hotels for £79m to a partnership of property investment firm Chiltern Mondiale and Kew Green Hotels.
  • January 2005: Pub-restaurants are consolidated under a single manager. The 144 under-performing Brewsters are gradually converted into Brewers Fayres and 31 Out & Out restaurants are sold or converted into Beefeaters.
  • March 2005: Whitbread puts its 46 franchised Marriott hotels into a joint venture with Marriott, which takes over their management. Whitbread intends to sell the hotels within two years for at least £1b and receives an initial payment of £710m at this point.
  • April 2005: Whitbread sells the 58-strong German chain of Maredo’s steakhouses (which now includes four Austrian outlets) for £24.8m.
  • September 2005: Whitbread sells its historic conferencing and banqueting site, the Brewery in London's Chiswell Street, for £55m to the Earls Court and Olympia group.
  • December 2005: Whitbread raises £117m from the sale of its 23.5% stake in the Britvic soft drinks company, which floats on the London Stock Exchange.
  • March 2006: Whitbread buys seven Holiday Inns from property consortium LRG for £34.5m which will be converted to Premier Travel Inns.
  • April 2006: Whitbread receives £237m from the £951.4m sale of 46 Marriott hotels to the Royal Bank of Scotland. The hotels were placed in a joint venture with Marriott in 2005 as a prelude to exiting the four-star hotel market and relinquishing itsUK franchise for the Marriott brand. Whitbread also announces a joint venture with the Emirates Group to take Premier Travel Inn to the Middle East, initially at three sites in Dubai.
  • June 2006: Costa Coffee signals its intention to move into China via a joint venture agreement with the Yueda Group, a state-owned enterprise. The plan is to open more than 300 coffee shops in China over the next few years.
  • March 2006: RBS buys 47 Marriott hotels from Whitbread for £941.4m.
  • June 2006: Costa Coffee signs a joint venture agreement with China’s Yueda Group to launch the coffee shop concept into Shanghai and eastern China. It hopes to open more than 300 stores in China within the next few years.
  • July 2006: Mitchells & Butlers buys 239 standalone Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub restaurants for £497m.  
  • September 2006: Whitbread completes the £112m sale of its 50% stake in the 600-strong Pizza Hut chain in the UK to US owner Yum! Restaurants.
  • November 2006: Whitbread doubles its expansion targets for Costa, which it hopes to grow from 650 stores to 2,000 by 2010. The plan includes doubling its UK estate to 800.
  • December 2006: Costa opens its 500th UK store in Summertown, Oxford, and its first in East Europe. Its first Chinese venue will open in Shanghai by Christmas. 
  • January 2007: Whitbread nets £74.1m from the sale of its TGI Friday's restaurants to a joint venture between TGI global franchise owner Carlson and private equity group ABN AMRO Capital. TGI Friday's UK buys 30 of the 45 properties as the freeholds on the remaining 15 sites have been sold and leased back from British Land for £48.37m.
  • June 2007: Whitbread agrees to sell its 71-strong David Lloyd Leisure business to Next Generation Clubs (backed by property company London & Regional Holdings and Bank of Scotland Corporate) in a £925m cash deal.
  • June 2007: Whitbread announces plans to change the name of Premier Travel Inn to Premier Inn to differentiate the brand from arch-rival Travelodge. The exercise rebranding exercise, which will cost a total of £21m, runs from October 2007 to February 2008.
  • June 2007: Whitbread enters a 50/50 joint venture agreement with real estate developer Emaar-MGF to open 80 hotels in India during the next decade at a cost of £300m.
  • September 2007: Whitbread buys Golden Tulip’s UK hotels for £44m and announces plans to spend £8m converting them to Premier Inns.. The deal includes six trading hotels and nine more in the pipeline.
  • October 2007: Whitbread hires Countrywide Hotel Acquisitions to source freehold and leasehold hotels with 40 to 400 bedrooms for conversion into Premier Inns. The company is headed by Peter Roberts, former Golden Tulip UK chief executive.
  • November 2007: Premier Inn opens its 500th hotel, in Bournemouth.
  • February 2008: Whibread announces the merger of its hotel and restaurant businesses under Patrick Dempsey in a move estimated to save it £25m a year by 2009.
  • March 2008: Whitbread ends its £3b merger talks with Travelodge that could have created a giant budget hotel group with 800 hotels. 
  • March 2008: Costa Coffee opens its 1,000th outlet in Moscow, its first in Russia under a joint venture with Rosinter Restaurants that aims to launch 200 Russian Costas over the next five years.
  • March 2008: Premier Inn opens its first Middle Eastern hotel in Dubai Investments Park, the first of five planned for the region. It also intends to roll out 80 hotels in India by 2017 in partnership with Emaar-MGF. The 700th UK Costa opens
  • April 2008:  Whitbread pays £18.5m cash for three London hotels owned by the Real Hotel Company - the Quality hotel in Westminster, the Comfort Inn in Kensington and the Purple hotel in the City. It plans to spend £12m converting them to Premier Inns.
  • May 2008:  Whitbread officially launches its latest restaurant brand, Table Table, following trials at ten sites. It converts 105 Brewer’s Fayers to the new format. 
  • June 2008: Whitbread opens its second Taybarns all-you-can-eat buffet concept in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, following a five-month trial of the new restaurant concept in Swansea.
  • July 2008: Whitbread acquires 21 Express by Holiday Inn hotels from Mitchells & Butlers, which in turn takes 44 standalone Brewers Fayre and Beefeater sites off Whitbread’s hands.
  • August 2008: Whitbread opens its first Costa Coffee in China with joint-venture partner Beijing Hualian Group. It has already opened 25 stores in China in partnership with the Yueda Group.
  • August 2008: Whitbread secures nine new hotels with a combined 1,000 bedrooms along with five new pub restaurants in a deal worth £100m. It also announces plans for a £4.75m refurbishment of the Brewers Fayre pub estate to attract more cost-conscious diners.
  • November 2008:  Premier Inn announces plans to convert Sir Alan Sugar’s Essex headquarters, in Brentwood, into a 120-bedroom hotel.
  • December 2008: Premier Inn launches its flagship green property, the Tamworth hotel in Staffordshire, which will reduce energy use by 80%. It also announces plans to launch its first floating Premier Inn, the 54-bedroom Floatel, in Hartlepool Marina during 2009.
  • January 2009: Premier Inn is to open its first fully self check-in hotel at St Mary’s Gate in Sheffield, following trials at its hotel in Kings Cross, London. It promises to reduce check-in time from 10 minutes to less than 60 seconds.
  • March 2009: Whitbread signs a deal for Hilton to offer Costa coffee in 60 of its UK hotels.
  • July 2009: Premier Inn  reveals plans to open 12 new hotels between 2010 and 2013, adding 1,562 rooms to its portfolio.

Chief Executive:

Alan Parker

Key People:

Chairman: Anthony Habgood
Finance director: Christopher Rogers
Managing director, Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants: Patrick Dempsey
Managing director, Costa Coffee: John Derkach
Group human resources director: Louise Smalley


Whitbread has grown into the UK’s largest hotel operator since 1992, when its hotel division contributed a mere £2m in profits, and has also built up leading positions in the coffee shop sector.  The group has continued to transform and streamline itself since the sale of its brewing and pub interests in 2000 and 2001 while promising accelerated growth in its chosen fields.

Unable to generate acceptable returns on its Marriott properties, the group has exited both the three-star and the four-star hotel market in order to focus on its star-performing budget hotel business.

By April 2006, the group had raised around £1.3b from the sale of the Marriott hotels, its stake in Britvic soft drinks and The Brewery conference centre in London.

It has also pulled out of the high-street restaurant business, offloading Pizza Hut in 2006 and TGI Friday's in 2007, when it also exited the health club business with the sale of David Lloyd Leisure.

Having sold or converted its underperforming Brewsters and Out & Out pub-restaurants, Whitbread elected to keep only those pub-restaurants that are co-located with a Premier Inn. It now operates four pub-restaurant and restaurant brands, mostly alongside budget hotels..
The successful Costa Coffee chain, which is the UK’s second largest coffee shop brand, has switched focus from quantity to quality through partnerships with such companies as BAA, Virgin Atlantic, Waitrose, Waterstone’s,Ottakar’s, P&O and Esso. It has also spread overseas through franchising to the Middle East, Dublin, Cyprus, India and Pakistan and Whitbread intends to grow the brand to 1,000 outlets here and abroad by 2010.


"Our target for Premier Inn during 2009/10 is to deliver around 2,000 new rooms in the UK and overseas. We have a strong pipeline of secured sites and will continue to develop a land bank. Internationally, our first hotel opened in Dubai during 2008 and we will build on this position, intending to open a further two hotels in the Emirates plus one in India.

We plan to open around 100 new Costa outlets in the UK in 2009/10. We will capitalise on our strong Costa brand by focusing on new locations, as well as areas where we can replace existing operators, such as in supermarkets, hospitals and leisure facilities. Costa will also continue to strengthen its position across international markets, adding 100 net new stores in the year ahead."

annual results statement, 25 February, 2009

Operating Data:

Total number of employees: more than 33,000

Financial figures below are from the year to 26 February 2009:


£1.06b (2008: £973.9m)
Operating profit before exceptional items: £254.9m (2008: £233.5m)

Premier Inn
Turnover: £601.5m (2008: £527.8m)
Like-for-like sales grew by 6%

Number of hotels: nearly 600
Number of bedrooms: 40,559
Turnover: £460.1m (2008: £446.1m)
Like-for-like sales grew by 4.6%

Number of restaurants: 372
Number of restaurants co-located with a Premier Inn: 328
Brands: Beefeater (130), Brewers Fayre (130), Table Table (105), Taybarns (7)


£263.8m (2008: £216.3m)
Operating profit before exceptional items: £22.7m (2008: £20.8m)

Number of outlets: 881 in the UK, 407 overseas

Financial Snapshot:

Full Year*

Turnover: £1.33b (2008-5: £1.22b)
Pre-tax profit: £198.6m (2008-5: £134.6m)

Half Year*

Turnover: £682.2m (2007: £605.8m)
Pre-tax profit after exceptional items: £129.2m (2007: £123.2m)

* the figures cover continuing operations

Financial year end: 26 February 2009
Half year end: 28 August 2008


Whitbread House
Park Street West