TGI Friday’s chief takes on MD role at Beefeater

Whitbread has appointed Neil Riding to succeed John Derkach as managing director of hotel, pub and restaurant group Beefeater.

Derkach, who was marketing director for Whitbread Beer Company before joining Beefeater three years ago, became chief executive of Pizza Hut UK in August (MW August 15). Riding is managing director of Whitbread’s TGI Friday’s chain, which he will continue to run until a replacement is found.

Last week, Whitbread admitted that sales at Beefeater had only grown 1.5 per cent in the 24 weeks to August 17, compared to group-wide growth of 3.8 per cent.

Whitbread chief executive David Thomas said the group had failed “to put enough sales promotion activity behind the brand”, adding that it would now be addressing this problem.

According to Nielsen Media research, advertising spending on Beefeater for the 12 months to the end of June 2002 was &£100,000.

However, a Whitbread spokeswoman says press reports of a complete brand overhaul for Beefeater, or even the sale of the chain, are untrue. “There is no brand review – that is just press speculation,” she says.

Beefeater was launched 28 years ago, and had considerable success, taking over rival Berni Inns 12 years ago and becoming the UK’s largest full-service restaurant operator, with more than 300 sites.

But a &£50m brand relaunch in 1997 seems to have failed to stop a fall in sales, and Whitbread has converted a number of outlets to its Out & Out or Grillbar formats in recent years.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here