Whitbread profit fuelled by Costa and Premier

Britain's biggest hotel and coffee shop operator Whitbread said it expected strong profit growth in its current financial year benefiting from increased sales at its Premier Inn and Costa Coffee chains.

Whitbread, which also owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurant chains, said sales at Premier Inn hotels open for more than a year grew 8.7 per cent in the third quarter to December 2 while sales at Costa Coffee outlets open for more than a year were up 11 per cent.

"The positive momentum in our business gives us confidence that, despite tougher comparatives and an uncertain outlook for consumer spending, the outturn for the full year will be in line with market expectations for strong profit growth," Chief Executive Andy Harrison, who joined the company last month, said in a statement.

Market expectations for full-year pretax profit currently range between £247M and £290m.