Whitbread’s profits rise

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PREMIER Inn and Costa ­Coffee owner Whitbread is tipped to report a further ­double-digit hike in full-year profits on Tuesday after shrugging off the horse meat scandal and adverse weather earlier this year.

The leisure group, which owns the Brewers Fayre chain, saw underlying sales growth slow to 2.7 per cent in the 11 weeks to 14 February, down from 3.3 per cent the previous quarter. It said its performance was slightly suppressed by the impact of blizzards on its restaurants arm, while the group was also dragged into the horse meat crisis and withdrew lasagne and beef burger products from its menus following the discovery of equine DNA on Valentine’s Day.

But analysts are still expecting full-year profits to leap 14 per cent higher to £347.6 million thanks to more robust results at its Costa coffee arm.

The chain delivered a 32.2 per cent leap in total sales in the first 11 weeks of the final quarter and a 5.5 per cent rise when changes in store space are stripped out.