City Toasts Surprise New Head of Whitbread

The Birmingham Post (England), December 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

City Toasts Surprise New Head of Whitbread


The stock market yesterday raised a glass to toast the surprise emergence of insider Alan Parker as the new chief executive of pubs, hotels and leisure group Whitbread.

First reaction to the news saw shares put on 4p at 710p as analysts pointed out that Mr Parker's appointment had ended speculation about who would succeed David Thomas, who is due to retire at the company's annual meeting next June.

Mr Parker, who at 57 is only three years younger than Mr Thomas, is currently managing director of Whitbread's hotels division.

He is understood to have beaten restaurants division boss Bill Shannon and Stewart Miller, who heads up the David Lloyd Leisure business, to the job.

Other analysts who had been looking for outside fresh blood (former Matalan chief executive Paul Mason's name was among those touted) described the appointment as a 'major surprise' and some also predicted 'ructions in the boardroom' and the departure of some major Whitbread figures.

Mr Parker has been managing director of the Whitbread Hotel Company since 1992 -a business he has led from a pounds 2 million annual profit to pounds 139 million in the last financial year.

The division, which generates around half of Whitbread's annual profits, is now the UK's largest hotel company with more than 360 hotels based around the Travel Inn and Marriott brands.

Chairman Sir John Banham said: 'The nomination committee met some truly excellent internal and external candidates before coming to the unanimous view that Alan's experience and business acumen made him the ideal man for the job. …

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