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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Patrick Dempsey, Whitbread

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Patrick Dempsey, Whitbread

Overall ranking: 4 (ranked 6 in 2010)

Hotel ranking: 2 (ranked 3 in 2010)

Patrick Dempsey is managing director of Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants, created in 2008 by combining the leisure group's Premier Inn business with its pub-restaurant arms. Along with more than 600 Premier Inns, with locations in India and Dubai as well as the UK, the business operates almost 400 restaurants under the Beefeater , Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns brands.

In the year to 3 March 2011, Whitbread reported total revenue up 11.5% to £1,599.6m, with the hotels & restaurants division's revenue up 7.0% to £1,172.7m, generating profits up 14.7% to £283.4m.

Patrick Dempsey - Career guide

Patrick Dempsey has worked for more than 30 years in the hotel and restaurant business, and has held posts including chief executive of Macdonald Hotels, managing director of Forte Hotels UK and CEO of Restaurant Associates , part of Compass Group.

Dempsey joined Whitbread in 2004 and joined the board as an executive director in January 2009. He is a trustee of Hospitality Action, a member of the Business in the Community talent and skills leadership team, and sits on the DCMS Tourism Advisory Council.

Patrick Dempsey - What we think

When Whitbread's new chief executive Andy Harrison took up his post in September 2010, any trepidation he felt at taking the helm of one Britain's best known leisure brands must have been tempered by the knowledge that the business is in astonishingly good health. And for that, Patrick Dempsey deserves much of the credit.

Premier Inns, already the UK's largest hotel brand, has plans in place to add around 4,000 additional rooms in 20011/12, an increase of around 9%, as well as 14 new pub restaurants. Over the next five year, Premier Inn plans to increase its UK capacity by 50% to at least 65,000 rooms, with 10,500 rooms already in the pipeline.

Whitbread now has a much narrower focus. The once-diverse leisure giant has exited brewing, sold most of its pubs and ended its involvement in businesses such as Britvic, David Lloyd and the UK operations of Pizza Hut and TGI Friday's. The business now comprises Premier Inn, with pub restaurant sites alongside hotels, as well as the Costa Coffee operation.

While Costa is also set for strong expansion, the hotel and restaurant division is the engine room of the group's finances, and Dempsey is the man in the engine driver's seat.
In an interview with the Publican, Dempsey said: "We don't do a lot of different things now, we do a few things well. There's been a change from the days when big companies were driven to keep diversifying - the focus now is on what you do best."

Alongside revamping existing sites, Premier Inn has expanded and now operates more than 42,000 rooms in the UK, and has also opened in Dubai and India. On the restaurant side, to the long-established Beefeater and Brewer's Fayre operations have been added the casual pub dining Table Table, and the fixed-price, family focused Taybarns brand.

Dempsey also takes a strong lead on industry issues. In April this year, Premier Inns was the first hotel group to withdraw its rooms from use by third parties approved by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) after it emerged they were being sold on in highly marked-up tourist packages. Protecting the integrity of the brand is seen as essential.

Patrick Dempsey's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>

Premier Inn rooms withdrawn from LOCOG agreement >>

Whitbread winning in age of austerity >>

Whitbread appoints Patrick Dempsey as its executive director >>

Whitbread website >>

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