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Hartford Group to change its name

19 January 2006

The Hartford Group, owner of Jamie's Wine bars and Henry J Beans grill restaurants, will change its name to the Food & Drink Group later this year.

Company chief executive James Kowszun said that over the past few years the Hartford group had changed its style of business, which made it the right time to close a chapter in its history with the name change.

"We now have a stable business, with an exciting growth story in the form of Henry J Beans," said Kowszun.

The company, which will change its name around April, has just signed a new Henry J Beans franchisee in Mexico City, taking its total to 18, four of which are in the UK.

Having completed the integration of the restaurant business, Kowszun is looking to add to the five managed restaurants and bar purchased last September in the £5.8m Henry J Beans deal.

"We're currently having conversations for several sites. We're looking at university and cathedral towns and cities south of Birmingham. However we are in no rush. I'd rather do one or two sites brilliantly, than open eight badly and screw them up," said Kowszun.

Turnover for the 52 weeks to 24 September 2005 was 10.4% higher than last year at £13.3m (2004: £12m), helped by acquisitions and strong Christmas trading.

Pre-tax profit increased 40.2% to £401,000 (£2004: £286,000) while like-for-like sales rose by 3.7%.

As a result of last year's restructuring of the business the position of operations director was made redundant and Jeremy Spencer left the business at the end of 2005.

Mark Crowther, previously divisional managing director of Brakes Foodservice, has joined the company in the newly created role of trading director.

By Chris Druce

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