Ex-Boots boss Richard Baker to take up chair at Whitbread

Kasmira Jefford
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Whitbread will be Richard Baker's third chairmanship
Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner Whitbread has appointed one of its non-executive directors, the former Boots chief executive Richard Baker, to take over as chairman.

Baker, who has sat on the board since 2009, will replace Whitbread’s longserving chairman Anthony Habgood in September. Habgood announced in January that he would be retiring after nine years in the role.

A well-known name in the retail industry, Baker was chief executive of Boots between 2003 and 2007 and led the high street chain’s £7bn merger with the European drug distributor Alliance Unichem in 2005.

He stepped down after a management shake-up by its private equity owner KKR and Stefano Pessina, who had just taken the FTSE 100 company private for £11.1bn.

Before joining Boots, Baker spent nine years at grocery chain Asda, where he worked his way up the ranks to chief operating officer. Like many of the retail industry’s high flyers including Sainsbury’s ex-boss Justin King, Baker started his career at Mars.

Since leaving Boots, he has held a string of high-profile non-executive roles and is currently chairman of gym-chain Virgin Active and sofa company DFS.

Whitbread’s senior independent director Sir Ian Cheshire said Baker had “a strong record in managing and chairing consumer businesses” and was “the best choice” out of a strong field of candidates to take on the role.

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