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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

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

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album