Waitrose Welcome Break


A group of former JP Morgan executives has bought 45% of Welcome Break.  The motorway service station operator has secured a £440m funding package from a banking syndicate, jointly-led by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, to enable further investment in its hotel and retail offering.

The deal with Arjun Infrastructure Partners will see the team of investors buy the stake from a host of minority investors, according to The Times. NIBC European Infrastructure Fund will retain a 55% stake in the motorway services chain.

Surinder Toor and Charles Hazelwood have joined the Welcome Break board as directors in place of Artur Kawonczyk and Anne Grandin, filings at Companies House showed.

The funding from Lloyds Bank will be used to refinance debt and will go towards further investment in the portfolio. The company intends to extend and rebrand a number of its Days Inn hotels to the Ramada brand, introduce new restaurant and coffee brands, as well as creating more drive-through facilities at its service stations.

Welcome Break is the second largest motorway service station operator in the UK, managing 27 sites across the UK, offering food, drink and retail experiences for customers and motorists. The brand partners with companies such as Burger King, WH Smith, Waitrose, Starbucks, Pret and healthy food chain Tossed.

Headquartered in Buckinghamshire, the group has an annual turnover of £648m and employs 5,500 members of staff.

“The funding package gives us a solid platform to further grow our business,” said Welcome Break CEO Rod McKie. “We’re making significant investments to improve and enhance the facilities across the Welcome Break portfolio, which includes expanding our hotel offer and bringing new food brands to our service stations across the country.”

Steve Lyon, relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “Welcome Break is a household name and a brand that is trusted by UK motorists. In fact, it attracts 85million customers every year.

“We are committed to supporting ambitious mid-sized firms as they realise their growth ambitions and this package allows Welcome Break to focus on investing for the future. Providing tailored funding packages like this is part of our plan to help Britain prosper by helping firms maximise the growth opportunities available to them.”

The deal comes three months after Welcome Break hired investment bank Evercore to refinance £400m worth of debt.