|Headquarters||Newport Pagnell, England, UK|
|United Kingdom except Northern Ireland|
|John Diviney (CEO)|
|Products||35 service stations|
Number of employees
Welcome Break is a British motorway service station operator that operates 35 motorway service stations in the UK. It is the second-largest motorway service area operator behind Moto. It also operates hotels and motels. It is a subsidiary of Applegreen.
Opened in 1959, the service area at Newport Pagnell on the M1 motorway near Milton Keynes by Motorway Services Ltd was the company's first service area under the Forte name and was the second service area to be constructed on the fledgling UK motorway network, however it was still the first to open. The name "Welcome Break" came from a chain of rival restaurants to Little Chef, created by Allen Jones. These restaurants eventually either became Happy Eaters or closed. The name was brought back when Hanson Trust renamed Ross Food's service stations. The company's portfolio was expanded to five motorway service areas during periods under the ownership of the Imperial Group and subsequently the Hanson Trust before being purchased by Trusthouse Forte in 1986. Under this deal, the Welcome Break name was adopted across the entire estate, with Trusthouse Forte's sixteen existing service areas re-branded.
In January 1996, the Forte Group was the subject of a £3.9 billion hostile takeover by the British media group Granada. Due to Granada's existing major presence in the motorway services market, a subsequent investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission ordered Granada to sell 27 of the Welcome Break sites. The company was eventually bought by Investcorp in 1997 for £476M. Investcorp then sold Welcome Break to Appia Investments in March 2008 for £500M.
In August 2018 Applegreen agreed to purchase the majority of Welcome Break for €361.8M.
The facilities available at Welcome Break service areas varies at each site, with most sites open 24 hours a day throughout the year. Typically, each service area comprises a café or restaurant, a retail outlet, a hotel and a petrol station. Some sites have WHSmith, Burger King, an eat-in restaurant, a coffee shop (Starbucks Coffee), and a petrol station (Shell or BP).
The majority of hotels at Welcome Break service areas are franchises of Days Inn or Ramada; many of these were once branded under Welcome Break's own brand, "Welcome Lodge"; the last of these, at Newport Pagnell and Charnock Richard, were rebranded to Days Inns in May 2009 and also took over operation of three former PURPLE hotels at Cambridge, Peterborough, and Stevenage in July 2009, each three have reopened as Days Inn taking its total to 26. In September 2012, Welcome Break opened a Days Inn at the new Cobham Service area on the M25, and 2013 saw a rebrand of Days Hotel London North and Days Inn London Stansted into Ramada hotels. In December 2014, Welcome Break purchased Days Hotel Wakefield, and after a full refurbishment it was reopened as Ramada Wakefield in January 2015.
When Welcome Break chain was sold by Granada, branches of Little Chef at those sites were replaced a similar table service restaurant, Red Hen. High prices earned the chain the nickname "Little Thief".
Eat In became Welcome Break's own brand self-service restaurant. However, these have since been replaced with food courts, featuring a selection of brands varying from location to location:
Recently, Welcome Break service areas have followed the industry-wide trend towards partnership with High Street brands. W H Smith stores have been introduced at the majority of Welcome Break sites as a replacement for the traditional unbranded retail outlets. Initially launched as a trial store at the Newport Pagnell site in February 2007, W H Smith stores have now been rolled out across the Welcome Break portfolio.
Fone Bitz sell electronics across the motorway network and operate at most Welcome Break sites. Fone Bitz sell a range of Mobile Phone, iPad, iPod, Laptop, electronic and car accessories in general.
Welcome Break Gaming is a self branded betting arcade located at all Welcome Break sites, except the Welcome Break operated Days Inn hotels and motels.
In July 2011 it was announced that the green energy provider Ecotricity will be providing fast and normal electric vehicle charging stations at Welcome Break service stations as part of its 'Electric highway' network, linking London in the south with Exeter in the west and Edinburgh in the north.
In July 2021, it was announced that Gridserve had purchased Ecotricity's "Electric Highway" charging network. Gridserve agreed to maintain the network's relationship with Welcome Break, and will start updating charge points to include contactless payment and faster chargers
However, whilst other MSAs were rapidly upgraded, by Christmas of 2021 Gridserve had been unable to upgrade any of the Welcome Break sites. Speculation online that Welcome Break were blocking them from doing so was given credence by the installation at South Mimms of EV chargers bearing the Welcome Break brand. 
Welcome Break introduced a new company logo in September 2006. The swan, integral to the previous company logo, has been removed. The new logo features a black background with the words 'welcome' and 'break' in green and white respectively. Each site now also has a large mural depicting a local landmark unique to that site. Many of these were commissioned from artist David Fisher.
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