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Business News

Costa Coffee and Premier Inn boost sales at Whitbread


Strong demand for Costa coffee and a solid performance by budget Premier Inns saw a sharp rise in third-quarter sales at Whitbread, leaving it confident it will meet targets for the year

Costa has opened 246 new shops so far this year, including 133 in the UK, and will hit its target of 300 for the year by Christmas.

Sales were also boosted by the increasingly cold weather in October and November with sales in the last 13 weeks up by more than 20 per cent.

On the more conservative measure of sales by stores open for at least 12 months, the 13-week growth rate was 4.9 per cent.

Finance director Nicholas Cadbury said recent sales had been boosted by its festive cups and flavours, with its gingerbread and cream latte proving the best-seller at more than 12,000 cups a day.

Premier Inn had another strong quarter in London, where revenues rose by 16 per cent on an extra 10 per cent of rooms available. Outside London, revenues rose 13.5 per cent on 6.9 per cent more rooms.

But the company has scaled back its room-opening plans for the year from 4000 to 3500, largely because of a delay in the completion of a 270-room Premier Inn in central London. Cadbury would not say where this is but said the delay was down to refurbishing the leased former office building. The hotel will still open in the spring.

In restaurants, which include Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, there was a third-quarter revival. Like for-like sales, which had been negative in the first half, grew by 1.8 per cent.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Our network expansion, as we deliver our growth milestones, combined with a strong focus on returns should continue to generate substantial shareholder value and create many new jobs.”

Richard Hunter of Hargreaves Lansdown said: “The key drivers of Whitbread’s recent success, Costa and Premier Inn, continue to power ahead, while an improvement in fortunes at its restaurant business and some overseas progress all contribute to a promising update.”