Whitbread in dividend hike as profits lift

WHITBREAD yesterday reported forecast busting first-half pre-tax profits and ramped up its interim dividend.

The performance of its Premier Inn and Costa Coffee chains fuelled the rise. Whitbread, which also operates the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chains, said underlying pre-tax profits rose 15.2 per cent to £174.9m in the six months to 1 September against analysts’ forecasts of £167m.

Total group sales increased 10.7 per cent to £891.3m. Premier Inn sales were up 10.6 per cent to £393.4m, while Costa rose 26.3 per cent to £250.8m.

Whitbread said Premier Inn had benefited from good demand from business customers, particularly in London which was proving resilient.

“This is a good set of results demonstrating the strength of our brands in tough market conditions,” said chairman Anthony Habgood.

The company said it would pay an interim dividend of 17.5p per share, up from 11.25p last year.