Whitbread, the owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, is on a hunt for a successor to Anthony Habgood, reports Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman.
The FTSE 100 group, which also owns Beefeater and Table Table, has brought in headhunters to find a new chairman. Habgood, who also chairs Reed Elsevier, is likely to step down at Whitbread's annual meeting in June of next year, by which time he will have been on the board for over nine years, say Sky News sources.
The search will be led by Stephen Williams, Whitbread's senior independent directors and a former Unilever executive.
At the end of October Whitbread posted a six month pre-tax profit increase of 12.6 per cent. The group put the boost was helped by the expansion of Costa and Premier Inn. Like-for-like sales were up 3.3 per cent. There has been talk of a possible demerger of Costa into a separate company, owing to its impressive growth in recent years.