London calling boosts demand at Whitbread

Kasmira Jefford
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WHITBREAD chief executive Andy Harrison said yesterday that the return of UK businesspeople and regular foreign tourists has helped to boost revenues at its Premier Inn hotels, despite expectations of a slump after last year’s Olympics.

Like-for-like sales across the budget hotel chain grew by 2.9 per cent in the first half of the year, fuelled by strong growth in London, where total sales were up 17.7 per cent.
“This time last year we were in the middle of switching from the Olympics to the Paralympics so we don’t have the full impact, but you can see that with such a strong sales number and strong occupancy, the return of the UK businessman and the regular foreign tourist has more than compensated for the absence of the Olympics,” he said.
But he added that the company had yet to see more positive signs in other parts of the UK. Regional sales were up 10.4 per cent in the second quarter to 13 August.
Meanwhile the warm weather meant that UK underlying sales at Costa Coffee slowed from eight per cent in the colder first quarter to three per cent in the final 11 weeks as consumers put off buying hot drinks.
Underlying sales across the group, including its restaurant business, rose 2.6 per cent in the first half.