A RISE in bookings and higher room charges at Premier Inn helped first-quarter sales at owner Whitbread grow 7.6 per cent year-on-year.
The group, which also owns Costa Coffee and the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub-restaurant chains, said comparable sales at Premier Inn were up 10.5 per cent in the 13 weeks to 3 June. Costa Coffee posted like-for-like sales up 8.5 per cent, while comparable sales at its four restaurant chains grew 3.6 per cent.
Chief executive Alan Parker said: “In these times of austerity, our strategy of value for money hospitality brands in growing segments of the market has put us in a position of relative strength.”
Whitbread has opened four new Premier Inns in the past quarter and has plans to open 250 new Costa stores in the current financial year.
At Premier Inn, revenue per available room, a key industry measure was up 9.1 per cent, the first positive quarter for 18 months, and Parker said Premier Inn would continue to perform strongly on increased demand from business users.
He said he was also confident that Premier Inn would benefit from non-business users staying in hotels during the summer as they expect less people to go abroad for their holidays.
“People are looking for value-for-money vacations in the UK, as the largest hotel group in Britain we must benefit from that trend, fingers crossed we are looking for a good summer,” said Parker.
Whitbread’s full-year pre-tax profit has been forecast at £252m.
FAST FACTS | WHITBREAD
● There are 578 Premier Inns across the UK and Ireland with a total of 40,000 rooms.
● Costa is now officially the largest and fastest growing coffee shop chain in the UK.
● Whitbread employs 33,000 people.