Since joining the Whitbread Group in 2010, chief executive Andy Harrison has managed to raise the group’s market value from £2.5 billion to £9.7 billion, largely due to the ongoing expansion strategy which has boosted the footprint of the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn chains.
However, this week, Mr Harrison confirmed that he will be stepping down from his role by February 2016 in an announcement coinciding with the group’s annual profits update.
Mr Harrison said; “After 18 years as chief executive of three different public companies it is time for me to plan my retirement from full-time executive life and to seek new challenges.
“In the meantime, it is business as usual, which means that the Whitbread team and myself remain fully focused on continuing to deliver profitable growth.”
In the group’s annual report, it was revealed that revenue increased by 13.7 per cent to £2.6 billion while pre-tax profits rose by more than a third to £463.8 million. This 33.7 per cent leap in year-on-year profits was well ahead of expectations cited by City analysts, indicating that further strong growth is in the pipeline for the group.
A large part of this impressive performance has been put down to rapid expansion of the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn brands, which Whitbread revealed will continue in the years leading up to 2020.
Under the plan Costa Coffee will see its presence grow significantly with the plans indicating that 2,500 outlets will be operational by 2020 in the UK, which remains Costa’s biggest market, despite an international portfolio covering 3,080 different locations. Similarly, Premier Inn intends to add a total of 25,000 rooms by 2020, roughly equating to 5,000 new rooms per year.
These plans represent a huge leap from the growth targets previously set for 2018, and will therefore have a corresponding impact upon the number of jobs created during the next five years by the group – at present this is expected to clear the 15,000 mark. However, as yet there is no indication that a replacement chief executive has been earmarked to replace Mr Harrison, although chairman Richard Baker has begun the search.
He says; “Whitbread has gone from strength to strength under Andy’s leadership, delivering consistent rapid and profitable growth built around our strong brands and the company’s unique culture.
“Over the last five years our revenues have grown by 13pc per annum, driving a 17pc per annum growth in our earnings per share.
“Whitbread has a clear strategy, ambitious growth milestones and the strength of leadership to successfully deliver these goals.”