Costa coffee helps Whitbread boost sales

A Costa cappuccino Another 141 new coffee shops were opened in the six months, taking the total to 2,344,

A sharp rise in sales at the Costa coffee chain helped drive half-year profits and revenues at Whitbread.

The company, which also owns the Premier Inn hotel chain, saw pre-tax profits rise 1.5% to £191.9m.

Excluding one-off costs the underlying profits were up 10.6% to £193.4m, with total revenues up 14.2% to £1.02bn.

At Costa, underlying profits jumped 29.9% to £36.1m, marking 42 consecutive quarters of growth at the chain.

Premier Inn UK saw total sales rise by 12.9%, with like-for-like sales up 3.7%.

Expansion

Whitbread's chief executive Andy Harrison said the figures pointed to a "strong first half performance" in a difficult economic environment. He described the Costa performance as "outstanding".

The company said it had created 1,500 new UK jobs, and was on track to create 10,000 over the next three years as expansion continues.

Whitbread is also looking for further growth in China, where it currently has 200 Costa outlets.

Premier Inn opened 1,591 new UK rooms taking its total to 49,020. The company aims to have 65,000 rooms by 2016.

Revenue-per-available-room, a key industry measure, rose 2.4%, with a 4.4% growth in London, helped by the Olympics, and 1.9% elsewhere in the UK.

In the restaurants division, which operates the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre brands, total sales rose 5.3%, and like-for-like sales were up 3.4%.

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