Fitness business boosts Whitbread sales figures

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The Independent Online

There was a healthy glow to Whitbread's sales figures yesterday as the group's fitness club business reported "encouraging" growth for the first half of the year.

The former brewer, which sold its pubs in 2001 to focus on hotels, restaurants and sports clubs, reported a growth in its David Lloyd Leisure business of 6.7 per cent.

The group plans to spend around £315m expanding the number of David Lloyd clubs by five per year for the next seven years, taking the total in the country to 100.

The company's chain of Beefeater restaurants, characterised by their large beer gardens and family-friendly environment, also reported sales growth of 5.2 per cent, boosted by the hot weather over.

But a slump in tourism earlier in the year hit the group's up-market Marriott chain of hotels and sales fell 1.2 per cent.

After recovering from a low of 450p in late January, Whitbread has seen its share price rise steadily through the year, to peak last month at 770p per share.

The results have prompted analysts to forecast a growth in the company's full-year operating profits, rising to £242m from £222m previously.

Last night, Whitbread's shares were down 0.5p at 758p.

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