Noble House steals Costa Coffee’s marketing chief

Costa Coffee marketing director Laurie Morgan is leaving to become the first marketing chief of Noble House Leisure, owner of the Yellow River Café and Jim Thompson restaurant chains.

Morgan, who joined the Whitbread-owned Costa from Pizza Hut in October 1999, will take up her new position in September. The chain has yet to find a replacement for Morgan

This week, Costa appointed Ignition to handle its below-the-line account, worth up to &£1m, following a four-way pitch against Carlson, Billington Cartmell and Geronimo.

The coffee chain is also testing fair trade cocoa brand Divine in its chocolate drinks in two of its London stores. If successful, Divine may replace Cadbury’s chocolate in the chains 240-plus outlets.

Noble House was set up by venture capitalist Robert Breare in May last year and acquired the Jim Thompson restaurant business in June 2000. In November last year, it bought the Oriental Restaurant Group, owner of the Yellow River Café restaurant brand, for &£14.4m.

Morgan says: “Noble House is a very innovative company and I am very excited about joining it.”

The company is also in line to acquire some of Wolverhampton & Dudley’s pubs, including the Pitcher & Piano chain, if Pubmaster buys the estate.

This would be in addition to the 214 pubs Noble House bought from Scottish & Newcastle for &£94m in June.

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