Whitbread vows it will hang on to Costa Coffee as its profits froth up


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The Independent Online

Whitbread dismissed suggestions that it should spin off or sell its fastest-growing business, Costa Coffee ,yesterday.

“We are really having a great success with Costa,” the finance director Nicholas Cadbury said. “We are clearly doing something right with it and are good owners of the business. We have no plans to separate it off.”

That view was underlined by Costa’s 20 per cent profit rise to £43.5m out of Whitbread’s total headline profit of £216m – up 12.6 per cent – in the six months to the end of August. The other growth engine, the hotel brand Premier Inn, grew revenues by 12 per cent across the country and by 18 per cent in London.

Profits at the hotels and restaurants division, which also includes Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, rose by 8 per cent to £196m.

Whitbread said it was well on track to hit its targets, not just for the year to next March but also in the longer term, including  plans to increase the number of Premier rooms by 50 per cent to 75,000.

The interim dividend goes up  by 11.8 per cent to 21.8p a share. Whitbread shares, which have risen by more than 40 per cent so far this year, eased 13p to 3,359p.