Costa owner toasts ‘strong’ third-quarter sales

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Hospitality group Whitbread today said it was on track to meet City expectations for the full year as it reported a rise in third-quarter sales.

The firm said like-for-like sales at its Costa chain of coffee shops grew 4.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 November, while takings at its Premier Inn hotels business were 5.4 per cent higher than a year ago.

Total sales at Costa jumped 20.8 per cent, boosted by the opening of 246 stores around the world – including 133 in the UK and 54 in China – taking its total estate to 2,773.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “This keeps us on track to deliver full-year results in line with expectations.”

Harrison said “challenging” conditions remain in the restaurants market, but the group’s stable of eateries, including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, eked out like-for-like sales growth of 1.8 per cent.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The key drivers of Whitbread’s recent success, Costa and Premier Inn, continue to power ahead, whilst an improvement in fortunes at its restaurant business and some overseas progress all contribute to a promising update.”