Costa Coffee lifts turnover at Whitbread

Kasmira Jefford
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WHITBREAD cheered the market yesterday after reporting a sharp rise in sales at its Premier Inn and Costa Coffee chains, despite the continuing shaky consumer climate.

The hotel and restaurant group was the top performer in the FTSE 100 after posting a 4.8 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in the 11 weeks to 18 August against the same period last year.

In a statement, Whitbread’s chief executive Andy Harrison said Premier Inn saw growth across the UK but particularly in London, leading to a 7.1 per cent rise in sales at hotels open for more than a year.

But he said trading at the group’s pub restaurants arm, which includes Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, remains “challenging, with customers being particularly price sensitive”.

It saw a 1.6 per cent fall in like-for-like sales over the quarter as customers still showed signs of financial pressure.

New store openings helped boost Costa Coffee sales by 28.8 per cent in the period, with like-for-like sales increasing 9.7 per cent. The company has opened 145 new stores this year, and aims to open another 155 by the end of the year.

The group plans to increase the number of Premier Inn rooms in the UK by almost 50 per cent by 2015-16.

Like his sector peers, Harrison cautioned that trading remained variable “in the continuing uncertain economic environment”.