People & Business: Whitbread chief executive sets his sights on greener pastures

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The Independent Online
Peter Jarvis is stepping down as chief executive of Whitbread after 12 years in the post. This may be no surprise, but at only 55, what is he going to do? "I'm looking forward to playing more golf and getting to know my wife," he said. "I gave up golf 30 years ago when I got married. I'm a member of three clubs so I will probably play at Goodwood near where we live."

He will also spend more time on what he describes as "my big boat" which is moored at Chichester.

Leaving Whitbread after 20 years will be a wrench for Cambridge-educated Mr Jarvis, who joined the brewer in 1976 after 12 years at Unilever. During his tenure as chief executive he signed the franchise agreement for TGI Friday and bought Boddingtons, Berni Inns and Peter Dominic, as well as Pelican and Brightreasons more recently. He has also worked closely with his successor, David Thomas, on two landmark acquisitions last year which saw Whitbread snap up David Lloyd Leisure and 16 Marriot hotels.

Mr Thomas, 52, will take over next summer. He joined Whitbread in 1984 as a regional director in the inns division. More recently he has run the restaurants and leisure side.

Andrew Cook, top man at metalbasher William Cook, is not known for a lack of self-promotion. So there is one big surprise in his company's corporate video now being circulated in the City as part of the group's defence against the bid from Triplex Lloyd. He doesn't appear in it.

It is always interesting to note which companies try to slip in an annual general meeting or egm in the fallow period between Christmas and New Year. Sometimes there are genuine reasons for this. But on other occasions, the dates are chosen because the company doesn't really want anyone to come.

Top of the list in this category is Costain, the accident-prone construction company. Costain is selling its US coal business and is holding an egm to approve the sale on 27 December. No doubt the reason is that Costain is keen to avoid too many New Age travellers trudging along to protest about the construction of the Newbury bypass which Costain is building. This follows the group's agm earlier in the year which degenerated into farce with protesters storming the podium and security men being called in.

Costain denies it is being furtive: "Absolutely not. It's just a matter of procedure." A hard core of protesters will probably turn up anyway.

Burton has jazzed up its annual report by publishing it as a glossy magazine. Chief executive John Hoerner's favourite model, Helena Christiansen, graces the cover. Inside, sections on each of the formats such as Dorothy Perkins and Principles look like fashion spreads. "We thought, well, we're a fashion retailer. We ought to try something different," says spokeswoman Amanda Bassett.

Bibulous businessmen should make a beeline for South Korea, according to a new guide, "Central Expatriate" by Arthur Andersen. There, visiting executives are expected to take to the tincture in a big way after a hard day at the conference table. Unlike the depressing Anglo-American trend towards abstinence, the Koreans like to enjoy themselves, and the Andersen guide counsels that at business parties one should be prepared to sing. A refusal often offends.

Apparently, however, it is not mandatory to get as drunk as one's host. Sometimes one is taken to the Korean version of a geisha house, where the women are regarded as "talking furniture" rather than sex objects.

The Japanese have a similar attitude to alcohol and are among the heaviest drinkers in Asia. However, it should be remembered that the Japanese seem to have a greater ability to recover from hangovers and foreign businessmen should be on parade first thing in the morning.

And finally, here are some trend predictions for 1997, courtesy of marketing consultancy New Solutions.

The trend for all things "clear", "lite" and "pure" will make way for a boom in all things red, even red beers.

Madonna's new film Evita will lead to an outbreak of South American themes, including food and dance crazes.

Supermarket home delivery will go national.

The advent of the recordable CD.

You have been warned.

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