Whitbread enters food-to-go sector with 49% stake in Pure

By Mark Wingett

- Last updated on GMT

Whitbread enters food-to-go sector with 49% stake in Pure

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Whitbread has made a move into the UK’s food­-to-­go sector with the acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in London based company, Healthy Retail Ltd, trading as ‘Pure’, for £6.8m.

According to BigHospitality's sister publication MCA​, Whitbread has the option to acquire the remaining 51 per cent stake within the next five years.

The business will continue to be managed and operated by the Pure management team led by Spencer Craig. Pure currently has eight shops in London’s West End and The City and further sites in the pipeline.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread said: “I am very impressed by Pure, which appeals to health conscious busy people, offering a choice of natural fresh food. As the UK’s largest hospitality company, it’s vital that Whitbread has its finger on the pulse of consumer trends and that we innovate with new formats and concepts. I see considerable opportunities to grow the brand and by taking a stake in Pure we fast become part of a business that specialises in the exciting growth market for natural, healthy takeaway food and drink.”

Craig said: “We are very excited about our partnership with Whitbread. I knew from our first meeting that our shared values of looking after our people and providing the best possible customer experience made this an obvious partnership. We have built a loyal customer base as people increasingly demand delicious, seasonal and handmade food at work or on the move. We’re growing fast and have plans to open more shops over the next three years. With Whitbread’s backing and support we are looking forward to sharing our food with many more people and injecting further pace into building the Pure brand and expanding our network of shops.”

The acquisition of a stake in Pure, follows the company’s Costa brand ramping up its food offer over the last 12 months, with an in­-store link up with Chop’d and the launch of its new Costa Fresco concept.

Speaking last week, Brittain said in order to hit the target of achieving £2.5bn of system sales from Costa by 2020 the company needed to capitalise on growth opportunities, and that food was a key area. She said alongside a roll-out of the Costa Fresco model there would be a focus on widening the food offer across the estate.

She said the brand needed to capitalise more on the opportunities for food sales at lunchtime and in afternoons.

MCA revealed at the end of last year that Pure has received approaches regarding new investment, as it looks to further expand in the capital. The eight-­strong group, which was formed in 2009 and led by Spencer Craig, was understood to have received interest from private equity, trade suitors and investment funds.

Craig told MCA that the company was targeting areas with dense office populations in central London for the breakfast and lunchtime markets. Craig said this market is still a long way from saturation: “We could be in many areas without affecting our own business already.” The group operates further sites in Soho, London Bridge, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden, Bank, Moorgate and Canary Wharf.

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