John Derkach

21 September 2006
John Derkach

Overall ranking: 79 (new entry)

Restaurateurs ranking: 22 (new entry)

John Derkach is the managing director of Costa Coffee (Global), a lynchpin of the Whitbread business alongside budget hotel group Premier Travel Inn.

The group is the second-largest player in the UK's £1.1b branded coffee shop market after Starbucks and holds a 21% stake, according to market analyst Allegra Strategies.

Costa currently operates 480 stores in the UK and another 150 franchised units overseas in 13 countries across Europe, the Middle East and the East.

The Costa business is based on an Italian-style, slow-roasted coffee offer and it has achieved wide coverage in high streets, transport hubs and motorway service areas throughout the UK by linking up with franchise partners.

John Derkach - Career guide John Derkach started his career as brand manager for consumer products conglomerate Proctor & Gamble in 1978 and moved on the role of group product manager for Playtex in 1982.

Between 1985 and 1994 he held a series of roles at Pepsi Cola International that including UK marketing manager, UK operations director, marketing director for Northern Europe, and area vice-president for Spain and Portugal.

He joined Whitbread in 1995 as marketing director of Whitbread Beer Company where he boosted sales of Stella Artois by more than 30% for three years. In his next role as managing director of Beefeater (from 1998) he reversed a seven-year decline in like-for-like sales and achieved sales and profits ahead of plan for three consecutive years.

In 2006, Derkach became chief executive officer of Pizza Hut UK, where he achieved record sales and profits for three consecutive years and opened a record number of new stores. He took on his current role in July 2006.

John Derkach - What we think John Derkach has a strong track record in building brands and managing change and he now presides over a company whose phenomenal growth has seen it open stores at rate of one every five days in the past few years.

The Costa story started in 1971 when brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa capitalised on their coffee-roasting experience in Parma to set up a wholesale business in London supplying local restaurants and specialist Italian coffee shops. They opened their first coffee store in 1978 and had grown to 41 venues when Whitbread bought the operation for £12.3m in 1995. By 2000, the group was selling 3.7 million cups of coffee each week.

Costa opened its 400th store in Cambridge in December 2005 and will break the 500 barrier in the UK by late 2006.

The group has forged a number of strategic alliances with corporate partners over the years such as Abbey, Waterstone's, Ottakar's, WH Smith, Waitrose, Esso and Tesco (in May 2006). In 2004, Costa set up a new operation for individually-franchised stores that kicked off in August when North London businessman opened the Finchley Road branch. By early 2006, its portfolio included 73 franchised outlets in the UK.

Costa Coffee has also expanded through the Roadchef network of motorway service areas since 1999 and set up units on British Airways land. In December 2005, it made a concerted drive into the travel concession sector through tie-ups with Virgin Atlantic, P+O Ferries and GNER trains.

Growth through international franchising agreements has also come to the fore in recent years. In 2005, Costa made its debut in Dubai, Pakistan and India and, in June 2006, it formed a joint venture with Chinese state-owned enterprise the Yueda Group to open more than 300 stores in China over next few years, starting with Shanghai and Eastern China in 2007.

It is now Derkach's mission to grow the brand to 1,000 outlets here and abroad by 2010.

In the year to March 2006, Costa Coffee boosted operating profits by 25.5% to £13.3m.

John Derkach - Further information

Whitbread's profile on CatererSearch

Costa Coffee official website

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here

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