RAPID growth at coffee chain Costa and the stronger regional hotel market have triggered another profits upgrade for hospitality giant Whitbread.
The company, which has nearly 60,000 rooms under the Premier Inn brand, said its overall performance in the final quarter of its financial year remained strong with growth of 5.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Whitbread now believes earnings will be at the top end of City forecasts. Analysts at Numis have pencilled in a pre-tax profit of £495.8 million, up from £411.8m a year ago.
Premier Inn grew its total sales by 16.5 per cent, with like-for-like sales growth of 8.6 per cent, after increasing its occupancy rate by three percentage points to more than 71 per cent and achieving a 4.3 per cent rise in its room rate.
In the UK regions it grew total sales by 14.6 per cent in the 11 weeks to 12 February.
Whitbread expects to open about 4,500 new rooms across the UK in the year to the end of this month before adding a further 5,500 rooms over the next year.
At Costa, which has been successful in tapping into Britain’s coffee shop culture, like-for-like sales were up 6.9 per cent in the quarter.
The company’s restaurants, including Brewers Fayre and Beefeater, achieved like-for-like sales growth of 0.6 per cent despite tough comparisons with a year ago.
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