- This article is about the Whitbread company. For the sailing race see Volvo Ocean Race. For the book awards, see Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards).
Whitbread Group plc is a UK-based hospitality company, managing several popular brands in hotels, restaurants and coffee houses, including Premier Inn, Table Table, Brewers Fayre, Taybarns, Beefeater and Costa Coffee. The company’s headquarters are based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and it is listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company was founded as a brewery by Samuel Whitbread and Thomas Shewell in 1742 but has since halted all interests in brewing.
Whitbread was set up by Samuel Whitbread
who established a partnership with Thomas Shewell in 1742
, taking on the name Whitbread & Co Ltd
in 1799. In 1750
Samuel Whitbread moved his brewing operations to premises in Chiswell Street on the eastern rim of Georgian London
, establishing the first purpose-built mass-production brewery in Britain.
Over the next 200 years Whitbread & Co introduced many brands to the UK market, such as Stella Artois and Heineken, alongside its own brands, which grew in popularity in the second half of the 20th century, before declining in the 1990s as people migrated to more international brands such as Fosters and Budweiser.
After a long history of brewing, the company, now known as Whitbread Group Plc decided in 2001 to sell all its breweries and brewing interests (Whitbread Brewing Company) to Interbrew, now known as InBev. Whitbread-branded alcoholic beverages are still available in the UK, such as canned Whitbread bitter, but these are not produced by InBev, merely produced under licence by other producers. InBev controls the use of the Whitbread brand, and the hind's head logo, for use on beverages. In 2002 Whitbread sold its pub estate, known as the Laurel Pub Company, to Enterprise Inns.
The Whitbread & Co brewery building at 52 Chiswell Street, London still survives, but beer was last brewed there in 1976 and it is now used as a conference and events venue. The site itself was sold to an investment firm in 2005, a decision which was seen by some in the company as "selling the family silver", as Whitbread sought to distance itself from its history.
In 2005 it moved its core operations from CityPoint in central London to Oakley House in Luton, and then in 2006 to larger offices at Whitbread Court in Dunstable (previously used by the now defunct Whitbread Restaurants Company) in a bid to reduce costs.
In 2006 it went on to sell 239 Beefeater sites to Mitchells & Butlers.
Whitbread's brands include the following:
Premier Inn is the UK's largest hotel chain, with over 500 hotels in the United Kingdom, plus Premier Inns in Republic of Ireland
and, from April 2008, in Dubai
. Premier Inn recently launched a new television advertising campaign after its re-launch from "Premier Travel Inn", featuring an advert starring Black Country comedian Lenny Henry
Table Table is a brand of restaurants in the United Kingdom owned by Whitbread. They are converted Brewers Fayre restaurants, usually next to a Premier Inn: the brand, launched in May 2008, has 105 sites in locations such as Lockyers Quay in Plymouth, a modern contemporary restaurant set in a prime location on the waterfront.
Beefeater was launched in 1970 and serves millions of guests each year. The chain underwent a huge revamp in the early 2000s and has just launched a new advertising campaign in the Central UK region. Beefeater has 131 houses across the UK; most have a Premier Inn hotel located next door.
Brewers Fayre is a pub-restaurant brand. The pubs are designed to look and feel like traditional local pubs but with a particularly strong family presence. The division is currently in the process of a regeneration. This will see the demise of the Brewers Fayre brand in favour of TableTable.
Taybarns is an all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurant being created at some former Brewers Fayre sites (eg: Swansea
). Further sites are planned to open during 2008. A second site is lined up for Coventry. Pub industry managers have been turning up in their droves in Swansea to check-out whether this is the next big thing. Some reckon it may be selling 8,000 meals a week, with total turnover in excess of £50,000 a week
Whitbread operates more than 600 Costa Coffee outlets across the UK. The chain also operates in the Middle East
partners, and in China
through a joint venture agreement. Whitbread plans for more Costa outlets to be operated outside the UK than in its home market by 2012.
Touchbase is Whitbread's conferencing and meeting rooms brand. These are normally found either in city centres or at motorway
junctions and attached to Premier Inns
Whitbread has recently offloaded some of its brands and licensed franchises in an effort to streamline the business:
- Britvic, a large UK manufacturer of soft drinks, producing brands such as J2O, Robinson's and Tango as well as Pepsi in the UK and Ireland.
- Whitbread Inns, standalone pubs with no restaurant attached.
- Marriott hotels and clubs in the UK, sold to brand owner Marriott Corporation.
- TGI Friday's, a chain of franchised American theme restaurants, sold to brand owner. (see below)
- Pizza Hut UK, sold to brand owner Yum!.
- David Lloyd Leisure health clubs sold to Versailles Bidco Limited. (see below)
- Hogshead, a group of town-centre pubs, similar to Wetherspoons, became part of the Laurel Pub Company.
- Threshers, a chain of off licences.
Whitbread originally held the UK franchise rights to the American restaurant chain TGI Friday's
. The restaurants are known for their "over the top" American style and are popular with teenagers for birthday parties. It is also noted for its cocktails including a top-selling Long Island Iced Tea
. The Whitbread website claims: "The highly popular Long Island Iced Tea cocktail alone accounts for more than 1.5 million of 34 million cocktails served in the UK since Whitbread first brought the brand to the UK in 1986".
The chain was ranked 15th overall in the FT's annual Best Workplace report, and ranked fourth as the most fun place to work in the UK.
On 17 January 2007 Whitbread announced that the franchise rights for TGI Friday's were being sold to a joint venture between Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc and ABN AMRO Capital for £70.4m.
David Lloyd Leisure
Whitbread run more than 50 David Lloyd Leisure
(DLL) clubs in the UK and Ireland with a further number in Spain
, the Netherlands
. DLL is Britain's biggest tennis operator and manages more than 500 tennis courts. On 4th July 2007, Whitbread announced that it had conditionally agreed to sell the David Lloyd Leisure chain to Versailles Bidco Limited for £925million. Whitbread will initially use the proceeds from its sale to pay off debt.
In 1971, the company launched the Whitbread Literary Awards
, but in 2005 Whitbread changed its sponsorship strategy to support the Costa Coffee
brand, as the Whitbread name was no longer a customer-facing brand, merely a holding company for a series of other brands: hence the new name "Costa Book Awards".