Whitbread froths up thanks to fury over Starbucks tax
Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee saw its sales soar 25.5 per cent in the 13 weeks to the end of November as its United States rival Starbucks flew into controversy over its failure to pay UK corporation tax.
Perhaps even more impressive was the 7.1 per cent rise in sales from branches and franchises which have been open at least 12 months. That is up from 5.7 per cent in the second quarter.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: "We cannot disentangle Starbucks from all the things that we are doing ourselves, like a really good TV advertising campaign, improved food range and some really good Christmas offerings." But he admitted: "It certainly hasn't harmed us. What we believe is that people are voting with their taste buds."
When prompted, Mr Harrison couldn't avoid another dig at his US-based rival. He said: "Last year Costa paid corporation tax at 27 per cent which amounted to £17m. I am not making profit forecasts for the next two years but I am pretty certain we will continue paying tax at that rate. It's no wonder Costa is the taxman's favourite coffee chain."
Whitbread isn't just coffee and there was a 12.6 per cent growth in sales at Premier Inns. This reflects rapid expansion within the M25 and particularly London, where it now has 8,000 rooms. That has taken the capital's share of all Premier rooms in the UK up from 15 per cent to just over 20 per cent in one year. Some of that was Olympics driven but the demand remains strong with occupancy today running at or above 90 per cent.
Including the pubs and restaurants, third-quarter sales across the group were 14.4 per cent ahead of last year.
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
German chancellor Angela Merkel named most powerful woman in the world by Forbes - again
World news in pictures
Eyewitness gives extraordinary account of her confrontation with Woolwich attackers
- 1 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 4 Eyewitness gives extraordinary account of her confrontation with Woolwich attackers
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL might have a sinister plan as a soldier is murdered in suspected Islamic terrorist attack
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.