Whitbread gets a boost from Costa Coffee’s sales rise

COSTA Coffee’s sterling performance in the fourth quarter has seen sales growth at Whitbread, Britain’s biggest hotel and coffee shop operator, rise by three per cent it said in a trading update yesterday.

Sales at Costa Coffee stores increased by 9.5 per cent in the quarter to February, benefiting from the launch of its new Flat White coffee at the end of January described by its chief executive Alan Parker as “smooth and silky.”

Whitbread said like-for-like sales at Premier Inn were up by 1.7 per cent on last year as the company targeted the leisure market with £29 per night offers boosting its performance at weekends and in holiday periods.

The group’s pub restaurants, which include Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, grew by 1.3 per cent.

Parker said: “Whitbread’s trading performance continues to be robust. In the last quarter all our businesses have demonstrated further positive momentum with like-for-like sales growth.”

Alan Parker announced his retirement on Wednesday and is to be replaced by former easyJet boss, Andy Harrison in November.

Harrison beat other potential candidates including Carl Leaver, former international director of Marks & Spencer, and Patrick Dempsey and Chris Rogers, two strong internal candidates. Whitbread plans to double the size of its Costa Coffee business over the next four years from 1,500 outlets to 3,000. The group also bought Coffee Heaven earlier this year. Its shares closed down 0.3 per cent at 1,472p.