Alan Parker

12 May 2005
Alan Parker

Overall ranking: 5

Hoteliers ranking: 2


Alan Parker is the chief executive of Whitbread, which has grown from its 1742 brewing origins into the UK's largest hospitality firm with more than 65,000 staff. In the year to 4 March 2004, it made pre-tax profits of £211.7m on a turnover of £1.8b.

Whitbread is the market leader in its three sectors. Its hotels arm includes 457 Premier Travel Inn budget hotels and, under franchise, 50 four-star Marriott and two Renaissance hotels. Its health and fitness division, David Lloyd Leisure, has 65 clubs.

Whitbread operates more than 600 pub-restaurants under the Brewers Fayre, Brewsters, Beefeater, and Out and Out brands while its 1,100-plus high street restaurants include Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee, TGI Friday's, and Maredo in Germany.

Career guide

Parker was born near Whitbread's historic Chiswell Street site in London in 1946. After working in his family's London restaurant, Parker moved into hotels as sales and marketing director at Thistle Hotels between 1974 and 1982 and at Crest Hotels between 1982 and 1985.

From 1985 to 1987, he was managing director for Europe at Crest Hotels and, in 1987, he become Holiday Inn's senior vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He joined Whitbread in 1992 as managing director of its hotel division. He became a board member in 2000 and chief executive in June 2004.

What we think

When Parker joined Whitbread, its hotel arm (then called Country Club Hotel Group) was a small, financially-unsound division contributing just £2m to group profits. It is now the UK's largest hotel operator.

Parker added 1,500 bedrooms a year to the budget Travel Inn brand along with the 141 Premier Lodges he bought in July 2004; arranged the franchise with Marriott in 1995; and bought 26 Swallow hotels in 2000.

As chief executive, he is now reshaping a group that had already shed its brewing interests in 2000, its pubs and bars in 2001 and its Pelican and BrightSeasons restaurant divisions in 2002.

In September 2004, Parker confounded City expectations of a flog-off of the restaurant division by announcing major expansion plans for Brewers Fayre, Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee, plus trials of smaller-format TGI Friday's. But he will sell 50 less-profitable pub-restaurants and the 61 German Maredo steakhouses, and convert the poorly-performing Brewsters and Out & Out chains into Brewer's Fayres and Beefeaters respectively.

Whitbread emerged as the 54th most respected company across all businesses in the peer-reviewed Britain's Most Admired Companies 2004 rankings.

Parker is also chairman of the British Hospitality Association; a member of the World Travel and Tourism Council, VisitBritain, and the World Travel and Tourism Council; a patron of the Hospitality Action benevolent fund; and a visiting professor at the University of Surrey. He was voted the Business Leader of the Year by his peers in the 2003 Hotel Reports Awards.

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