BEEFEATER and Costa owner Whitbread has blamed last month’s heavy snowfall for a slowdown in sales growth during the fourth quarter.
The group, which also owns the Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn chains, said like-for-like sales during the 11 weeks to 14 February were 2.7 per cent higher than the same period last year, but below the 3.3 per cent achieved in the previous quarter. Shares in the firm fell 94p, or 3.7 per cent, to 2,469p after the trading update.
Whitbread said its Costa chain of 1,500 coffee shops “continued to excel”, with like-for-like sales up 5.5 per cent, although that fell short of the third quarter’s 7.1 per cent expansion.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “We see no change to market conditions, although we expect a more competitive environment.”
The group also promised to track ingredients from “field to fork” after being dragged into the horsemeat scandal earlier this month, which saw lasagne and beef burger products removed from its menus.