Whitbread said yesterday that its new chief executive Alison Brittain would replace Andy Harrison two months earlier than planned as the company posted a 4.3 per cent rise in first quarter underlying sales.
Harrison, who has helped Whitbread’s stock market value soar from £2.5bn to almost £10bn during his five years in the top job, announced in April that he would be stepping down at the end of the financial year in February.
However the company said yesterday that he would leave earlier, after Alison Brittain’s speedy recruitment. The Lloyds Banking Group executive will join Whitbread in September as chief executive designate before taking over in December.
The company said it enjoyed strong demand at its budget hotel chain Premier Inn in the 13 weeks to 28 May, with underlying sales rising by 6.3 per cent. New openings helped total sales rise 14.3 per cent.
Total Costa Coffee sales grew 17.2 per cent with sales at UK stores open over a year up five per cent on a year ago.
In April the group increased its expansion targets out to 2020, aiming to reach 85,000 Premier Inn UK rooms against 59,471 now and Costa sales of £2.5bn compared with £1.4bn currently, as it expands overseas.
Harrison said the new financial year had begun well and that it was “on track to reach its ambitious milestones” with around 5,500 new Premier Inn UK room due to open this year and around 250 net new Costa stores worldwide.
Shares rose 30p to 5,070p.