The second-largest operator, Welcome Break have been extensively refurbishing several of their services (rebuilding Sarn Park entirely) and replacing restaurants with a whole-new range of takeaway food brands. They were also quick to roll-out stand-alone Starbucks drive thrus wherever possible.
In November 2018, Ireland's largest service station operator Applegreen purchased 55% of Welcome Break. Applegreen claim that they will be responsible for the brand's overall "strategy and operations", while Welcome Break's management will take responsibility for Applegreen's existing UK locations. The change took effect in January 2019, with 12 of Applegreen's busiest UK services expected to be rebranded Welcome Break later in the year.
Welcome Break Today
They were one of the first operators to take social media seriously, which they use to market their facilities. They regularly support Children In Need.
In 2017, they started branding themselves as "Your Welcome Break", usually followed by a dubious established date of 1959.
Having led several refurbishment programmes, throughout 2015 Welcome Break redesigned most of their food courts, introducing Subway, Tossed, Papa John's Pizza and Harry Ramsden's to the motorway network, but doing without the traditional restaurant all together and relying on Harry Ramsden's for the breakfast trade.
Some of these units are operated by Welcome Break at other operator's services, including Cobham.
As part of their latest changes, brightly-coloured wood-effect styling is used for many of its corporate signs and flooring.
Welcome Break have always taken their roll in providing motorway motels seriously, right back to when they leant their own name to the Welcome Lodge. This became Days Inn (also Days Hotel), which they operate away from the motorway network and at other operator's services.
These are now being replaced by the more upmarket Ramada. In April 2019, Welcome Break opened a new Ramada in the suburbs of Glasgow.
Full details: History:Welcome Break
The Welcome Break name was originally nothing to do with motorway services - it was an old name which was recycled and held on to. They went on to become the pride of Trusthouse Forte's family, and despite several names and changes forced upon them by Granada, the name continues to survive.
When Welcome Break was merely a motorway restaurant to rival Little Chef, circa 1974-78, its logo was also an attempt to rival Little Chef's logo. It was a purple silhouette teapot figure with legs, a head and a chef's hat, inside a triangle with a red outline similar to the Channel 4 red triangle or an upside down Give Way sign. The accompanying text added "Highway Family Restaurants" at the bottom.
From April 1984, the new Welcome Break motorway services had a whole new red-and-cream logo.
In around 1990, this was replaced by the slightly iconic swan logo and blue colour scheme, which can be seen to the right. Three versions of this were produced: one had a very pale background and black feet, and the second had a darker background and yellow feet. In 2000 the biggest change came, as more styling was applied and a sunrise was added to the graphic.
The Welcome Break services at Warwick were given a hill figure of a swan made of quartz that same year, although it never resembled the swan on the logo, and is no longer there. At one time they advertised their services with the slogan "High St. prices". How times change!
In 2006, the swan logo was then replaced by their new green-on-black colour scheme. All their services were given a mural which resembled its location, with the words 'Welcome Break' in white and green-on-black.
Welcome Break also teamed up with KFC, Waitrose and Starbucks to appear on their road signs, having previously used Sainsbury's, Burger King and Coffee Primo. At the end of the trend of pushing brand names further than their own, many road signs no longer used the Welcome Break branding at all, but new signs use the new format, showing the green-on-black logo.
Welcome Break Services
With the success of the Days Inn motel brand, Welcome Break had a hand in a hotel in central London. They no longer run this but do have a similar Ramada near Wakefield. They have since expanded the motels at London Gateway and Birchanger Green to use the more upmarket 'Days Hotel' name, now Ramada.
In addition to this, Extra have let out most of their facilities to other companies, many of which have been taken up by Welcome Break:
- Baldock (A1/A1(M)) - coffee shop branded as Starbucks and motel branded as Days Inn
- Beaconsfield (M40) - coffee shop branded as Starbucks
- Cambridge (A14) - motel branded as Ramada
- East Kilbride (A726) - new Ramada hotel
- Cobham (M25) - coffee shop branded as Starbucks and motel branded as Days Inn
- Peterborough (A1/A1(M)) - motel branded as Days Inn
- Winchester (M3) - motel taken over and branded as Days Inn
The following services were once branded as Welcome Break:
- Barnsdale Bar (A1) (possibly)
- Burtonwood westbound (M62)
- Copdock (A12/A14)
- Dover Port (A20)
- Grantham North (A1)
- Oxford Peartree (A34/A43/A44)
- Pease Pottage (M23/A23)
- Ross Spur (M50/A40)
- Sutton Scotney (A34)
Original A-road Sites
The following a-road sites were ran by Welcome Break in the 1970s:
- Camel Cross (A303)
- Fourways (A37)
- Henstridge (A24)
- Holmwood (A24)
- Hilltop Grill (A30)
- Kennford (A38)
- Lamberhurst (A21)
- Newcott (A303)
- Rake (A3)
- Upper Swainswick (A46)
As part of Applegreen's takeover, a number of services are proposed to be transferred from Applegreen to Welcome Break. These are the ones which most suit Welcome Break's existing estate, including several in Northern Ireland where no UK mainland motorway services operator can currently be found.
Several of these are not currently signposted from the road, and therefore not listed on this website. The full list of sites is:
- Alwalton (Kate's Cabin) (A1)
- Ballymena North (A26 Northern Ireland)
- Cromwell (A1)
- Darrington (A1)
- Fosseway (A46)
- Hillsborough (A1 Northern Ireland)
- Lincs Gateway (Spalding) (A16)
- Lisburn (M1 Northern Ireland)
- Spaldwick (A14)
- Templepatrick (M2 Northern Ireland)
- Whitley (A49)
- Wyboston (A1)
The following services were still being actively considered by Applegreen at the time of the takeover. They are now being pursued by Welcome Break.
The following services were planned by Welcome Break but they were never built:
- Bridgwater - site adjacent to existing service area (M5)
- Catherine-de-Barnes (M42)
- Doncaster (North) (M18)
- Kirby Hill (A1(M))
- Norton Canes (M6 Toll)
- Tibshelf (M1) - Welcome Break developed the first plans
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