Premier sales in capital help profits rise at Whitbread

UK divide revealed by hotel chain figures while group's Costa coffee continues to impress

Whitbread has revealed a sharp divide between the performance of its Premier Inn budget hotels in London and the rest of the country, as the leisure group posted a 15 per cent jump in half-year profits.

But Chris Rogers, the finance director at Whitbread, which also owns the Costa Coffee chain, described the UK consumer spending environment as "volatile". He said: "We see huge variations from week to week and month to month and discerning a trend we find very difficult."

Underlying profits at Whitbread jumped by 15.2 per cent to £174.9m in the six months to 1 September, on total revenues up by 10.7 per cent to £893.1m.

At Premier Inn, like-for-like revenue per available room (revpar) – a key measure for the hotel industry – surged by 11.4 per cent in London over the half year but by just 3 per cent in the provinces. The strong performance in London – driven by an increase in tourists and domestic visitors to its hotels – helped Premier Inn grow total revpar by 4.4 per cent over the half year. The hotel chain's revenues jumped by 10.6 per cent to £393.4m. This was boosted by it opening 11 new Premier Inns in the UK and five in the Middle East and India, bringing its total to 607 hotels.

Mr Rogers said: "At Premier Inn, we have seen growth both at the weekend and during the week," indicating increases in both leisure and business customers at its hotels. He added: "Revpar has been driven by both an increase in occupancy and room rates."

But Mr Rogers does not expect next year's Olympic Games to have a major impact on Premier Inn and said that only 15 of its hotels in central London will be directly affected.

Premier Inn is making 3,000 rooms a night available during the key 17-day period of the Games, of which an unspecified number are still available. This is in addition to the tranche of rooms Premier Inn has agreed to provide to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. Mr Rogers said: "I think it [Olympic Games] will have a small positive impact but not particularly material."

Costa Coffee, which has more than 2,000 shops, delivered a 41.8 per cent rise in operating profits to £27.8m, driven by booming sales in China, continuing growth in the UK and a rapid opening programme globally. The coffee chain grew like-for-like sales by 6.7 per cent over the half, which means it has delivered 38 consecutive quarters of growth.

Costa has more than 100 shops in China, where it sells some different products, such as green tea-latte. But Mr Rogers said: "The coffee is the same. We do vary some of the food offer to the local palate. In China, they find it difficult to eat a UK-sized muffin. If you walk into a Costa in Shanghai or Beijing you will know you are in Costa."

The sales picture was not so rosy at Whitbread's restaurants division, which includes Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Table Table. Its like-for-like sales fell by 1.6 per cent, as it was affected by the widespread discounting.

But the group lifted its dividend by 55.6 per cent to 17.5p, in line with its policy of rebalancing the first-half dividend. Paul Hickman, the analyst at Peel Hunt, said: "Excellent brand management, focused on market-leading brands in independently growing markets, has produced performance well above sector norms."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own