Costa delivers more strong sales

Whitbread. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Whitbread. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Premier Inn and coffee shop chain Costa have continued on their 'rapid growth trajectory' after owner Whitbread reported more buoyant figures today.

Like-for-like sales rose by a better-than-expected 6.9pc in the 13 weeks to May 29, with hotel chain Premier Inn up 9.5pc as it benefits from continuing strong growth in London and signs of economic recovery in the UK regions.

Costa grew sales by 4.5pc despite tougher comparisons against a year earlier, while the Brewers Fayre and Beefeater restaurants division improved by 4.4pc.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said the leisure-based group was well positioned for another good year as its brands continue to win market share.

Costa, which has 1,791 UK stores and has been the driving force behind the group's growth in recent years, opened a net 36 new UK stores in the quarter.

Whitbread said Premier Inn continued to win market share, growing total sales for the 13 weeks by 14.2pc and revenues per available room (revpar) by 8.8pc. Occupancy of 80.7pc was up 4.2 percentage points on a year earlier.

In the UK regions, Premier's total sales grew by 15.3pc in the quarter, with revpar up 9.9pc and occupancy of 80pc, up 4.9 percentage points.

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Mr Harrison said in a trading update ahead of the company's AGM: 'Premier Inn and Costa have continued on their rapid growth trajectory, underpinned by strong customer demand.'

Whitbread plans to add around 4,500 UK rooms and five joint site restaurants in the current financial year to February as it works towards a target of 75,000 rooms by 2018, compared with the current figure of 57,000.

Shares opened 4pc higher today and have risen by more than 40pc over the last year, compared to a 7pc hike for the wider FTSE 100 Index.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said: 'Despite coming up against strong comparatives, the company has posted extremely strong sales growth.

'The growth in the restaurants business was perfectly creditable, Premier Inn stronger still and Costa was again the jewel in the crown with an excellent set of numbers.'