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LONDON- Leisure operator Whitbread is to target the whole of the UK with a restaurant expansion programme worth around £300 million ($500 million) over the next five years.

‘Whitbread are bucking the trend with regard to new site acquisitions of family pub and hotel sites, across the country,’ says Simon Johnson, head of Whitbread Restaurants’ site finding team. ‘Many competitors have either suspended further expansion or substantially reduced their acquisition pipeline.’

The site-finding drive is being spearheaded by the group’s Brewers Fayre and Brewsters pub restaurant brands, which will collectively add around 35 new outlets per year. Johnson is being supported by a five strong acquisition team and nine retained firms of chartered surveyors, covering the UK.

Many of the new Brewers Fayre and Brewsters sites will be developed in tandem with Whitbread’s Travel Inn budget hotel business, which is already the UK’s biggest hotel brand. The property team is also on the hunt for new sites for its Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s and Costa brands.

Johnson added: ‘We are interested in a wide array of locations, from stand-alone sites on the edge of town to integrated business or leisure park developments. Due to the nature of our pub restaurant and Travel Inn businesses, the proximity of major roadways is an important factor.’

Typically the group requires sites of between 0.5 and three acres for Brewers Fayre, Brewsters or Travel Inn developments, while the buildings themselves tend to be between 7,000 and 10,000 sf.

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