Whitbread Restaurants picks former Argos head

Whitbread has appointed former Argos marketing chief Paula Vennells as marketing and strategic planning director for its restaurants division.

Vennells replaces Mike Tye, who is now managing director of Whitbread’s coffee chain Costa Coffee. She will oversee marketing of the group’s portfolio of restaurants which includes Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Café Rouge, and TGI Friday’s.

Vennells spent more than two years as marketing director of Argos before being appointed channel director in charge of the retail group’s e-commerce strategy at the end of last year.

It is understood that she left the high street and catalogue retailer earlier this month after turning down the position of director of strategic development at Argos’s parent company, Great Universal Stores (GUS).

A spokeswoman for Argos says the company has not decided whether to seek a replacement for the post.

Prior to joining Argos, Vennells held marketing roles at Sears retail group and Dixons Stores Group.

Whitbread Restaurants will decide in the next month whether to rebrand all its Café Rouge and Bella Pasta outlets as Rouge and Bella following a two-month trial across 18 sites.

It is also looking for a marketing director for the Costa Coffee chain to replace Laurie Morgan, who leaves this month to take the top marketing post at Noble House Leisure, owner of the Yellow River Café and Jim Thompson restaurant chains (MW August 9).

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