Lyceum-backed EAT hires former Costa Coffee MD as CEO


sandwich5sq_lrgEAT, the fast-growing British sandwich and soup chain backed by UK lower mid-market buyout firm Lyceum Capital, has brought in former Costa Coffee executive Adrian Johnson as its new CEO.

Johnson joins EAT from Costa Coffee, the Whitbread subsidiary, where he was most recently managing director of Costa Retail overseeing a trebling of store numbers and driving consistent like-for-like growth. Lyceum said in a statement.

The London-based firm said the appointment of Johnson marks a crucial next step in co-founder and former CEO MacArtur Niall and Lyceum’s long-term growth plans for the business, which will see EAT double its number of stores.

Lyceum bought a majority stake in EAT from mid-market private equity firm Penta Capital in March 2011, in a deal that was reported to have fetched about £100m.

Johnson joins EAT following a 22-year career at Whitbread, where he worked across a range of businesses in various roles.

He joined in 1991 after a stint as a store manager for TGI Fridays.

Johnson joined Costa in 2005 as operations director and was appointed to the role of managing director for Costa Retail in 2012.

Lyceum said in the statement that it is anticipated that Johnson will take up his new role at EAT with effect from June 1 2013.

MacArtur will remain on the board of EAT and will continue to play a role in the business in a non-executive capacity, the firm added.

EAT also announced the appointment of retail industry veteran Tony Solomons as a senior independent non-executive director, who joined the board late in 2012.

Solomons was previously a member of the Waitrose management board for more than 16 years, and was Waitrose retail director from 2007 until 2012.

“These appointments are a tremendous coup for the business and I am looking forward to working with both Adrian and Tony,” MacArthur said in the statement.

“We have an exciting period ahead as we continue with our next phase of growth and development.”

The appointments are likely to be welcomed by investors looking to commit to Lyceum Capital’s third fund, which is currently on the road seeking commitments of £275m with a hard cap of £325m, sources told AltAssets last year.

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