Whitbread adds new chain to German food business

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The Independent Online
WHITBREAD, the brewer, has expanded its restaurant chain in Germany with the purchase of 26 outlets for about pounds 20m, writes Russell Hotten.

The company already owns 37 Churrasco steak houses, the largest chain of its kind in Germany, and has now bought the country's second largest, Maredo.

Whitbread's track record in Europe is mixed. A plan with Pepsico to grow the Pizza Hut chain in France and Belgium fell through.

'Whitbread obviously feels more comfortable in Germany,' said an analyst. 'Churrasco has been the most successful of their European ventures.' He felt Whitbread had taken advantage of a one-off opportunity and the deal said little about the company's European strategy.

David Thomas, managing director of Whitbread Restaurants & Leisure, said: 'We have been pleased by the performance of Churrasco. Addition of the Maredo outlets will give greater market penetration as the German economic recovery gains momentum.'

At home, Whitbread has put increasing emphasis on food. This year it will lift its capital spending on Brewers Fayre, Beefeater, Pizza Hut and Travel Inn.