Whitbread’s finance chief to head up Costa

Kasmira Jefford
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WHITBREAD revealed yesterday that its finance chief Chris Rogers is to head up its coffee shop chain Costa Coffee, with the task of driving ambitious overseas expansion plans.

The UK’s largest hotel and restaurant owner said Rogers will become managing director of Costa in August and drive forward a five year plan to expand it to 3,500 stores worldwide.

He will replace John Derkach, who is leaving after 17 years to become chief executive of Tragus, the owner of UK restaurant chains including Strada and Café Rouge.

Costa is already Britain’s biggest coffee shop brand with almost 1,400 shops and has a further 800 units in 25 overseas markets, including China and India.

The appointment of Rogers, who has been Whitbread’s finance director for the past seven years, is likely to heighten talk that Costa could eventually be demerged.

Some analysts have suggested Costa could be spun out of Whitbread to create value for shareholders as it has few synergies with the group’s other major business, Premier Inn.

Whitbread’s chief executive Andy Harrison said there was no “hidden agenda” behind the management change and reaffirmed his view that Costa’s future lay within Whitbread. However, he declined to rule out a demerger at some stage in the future.

Shares in the company closed up 4p at 1,870p last night.