EAT poaches rival Costa Coffee's UK retail boss

LONDON Wed Jan 9, 2013 6:57am EST

LONDON Jan 9 (Reuters) - British food and coffee chain EAT has poached a top executive from Whitbread's Costa Coffee to be its new chief executive and oversee plans to double its estate.

Adrian Johnson, who worked under Costa MD Chris Rogers heading its UK retail division, leaves the firm after 22 years and will join EAT in June, EAT said.

Costa has expanded rapidly on an explosion in popularity of coffee shops in Britain, growing sales consistently as well as its store portfolio, which stands at over 1,400 in the UK and some 800 more overseas.

Food, soup and coffee firm EAT, majority owned by private equity firm Lyceum Capital, said on Wednesday Johnson would oversee plans to double its portfolio of over 100 stores.

The group also appointed former Waitrose retail director Tony Solomons as a non-executive director.

Costa owner Whitbread, Britain's biggest hotel and coffee shop operator, also runs Premier Inn hotels and restaurants including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre.

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