Whitbread given a lift by Premier Inn business travellers

WHITBREAD yesterday reported a 14 per cent sales surge across the group – fuelled by a return of business travellers to its Premier Inns and the growth of Costa Coffee.

Premier Inn like-for-like sales were 10.7 per cent higher in the 24 weeks to 19 August, while Costa’s like-for-like sales in the quarter jumped another 8.1 per cent.

Its hotel chain saw business travellers using its budget hotels jump by a fifth. Overall occupancy of rooms was up almost ten per cent compared with the same period last year. At their lowest rates the rooms are £29-a-night. The company has opened nine new hotels this year with a total of 795 rooms.

Chief executive Alan Parker said: “We are very pleased at how well Premier Inns has been performing. The rise in business travellers shows that people want to make the trips but in this age of austerity they want a cheap room. All of our businesses have been performing well.”

Whitbread created another 1,000 jobs over the period and now employs 34,000 workers in total. It also owns the Beefeater chain and its restaurant sales were up 4.3 per cent.

The company has 98 Costa Coffee franchises, with total sales up 28 per cent.