Whitbread has made further moves to strengthen the management team of its c390-strong pub restaurant operation as it looks to “flex its muscles” in the sector, including its first food director. The Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table operator has appointed Ronald Lento, who recently stepped down as head of at Wagamama, as its first food director. The division, which is overseen by managing director Paul Flaum, has also appointed Michelle Durrant, former head of price and revenue management at Mitchells & Butlers, as its new trading director. Their appointments come is currently repositioning its three core pub restaurant brands as it looks to attract a wider consumer audience. Flaum told M&C Report that the new recruits, along with chief operator officer Peter Blake and marketing director David Murdin, put the business in a strong position going forwards as it a looks to bring a “sharper focus” to its offer. He said that with such a team now in place the group would not rule out looking at further expansion opportunities. Last year, it appointed Murdin to oversee the refurbishment of a number of sites and the evolution of its menu offer. Lento is expected to continue with the update of the menu. Whitbread also launched a number of initiatives last year, including the roll out of free Wi-Fi, as it looked to close the sales gap with its competitors in the pub restaurant market, and has started to see some progress in terms of performance. Earlier this month, Whitbread said that the initial changes to its restaurants business had helped maintain an improved performance. Like-for-like sales across the division, which includes the Taybarn brand, climbed 2.1% during the 13 weeks to 31 May, with total sales up 5%. It reported total covers growth of 7.4%. Last summer, it rolled out a £7.99 all-you-can eat and drink breakfast offer.