Hales loses job in Domecq shakeout

Allied Domecq’s beleaguered group chief executive Tony Hales has become the first casualty of the company’s decision to sell its UK retailing business to Whitbread.

As the £2.3bn sale of Domecq’s 3,500 pubs and restaurants was announced to the stockmarket this week, it was revealed that Hales is to step down in favour of group finance director Philip Bowman once the sale is complete. Stephen Alexander, chief executive of Allied Domecq Retailing, the division being sold, is also leaving the company.

Whitbread has agreed to acquire Domecq’s entire managed and leased pub estate including the Firkin and Wacky Warehouse chains. It is also taking Domecq’s 50 per cent share in off-licence company First Quench, and subject to approval, a 25 percent share of Britannia Soft Drinks, the holding company of Britvic.

In return Domecq’s shareholders will acquire about 230 million newly issued Whitbread shares, placing a value of about £2.3bn on the retailing business. Allied Domecq will be left with its global spirits and wine business led by brands such as Kahlua and Ballantines, and its quick service restaurants with brands such as Baskin Robbins.

If the deal survives rival bids, Whitbread will become Britain’s largest leisure company with over 10,000 trading units.

The impact on Domecq Retailing remains unclear. Marketing and development director Syl Saller was recruited in January. Andy Walder, marketing director of Inns, has been overhauling Firkin and Peter Farrett is the marketing director of Restaurants and Bars.

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