Whitbread plans to create 10,000 jobs

Costa coffee cup
Image caption Whitbread has aggressive growth plans for Costa

Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain and Costa Coffee, has revealed plans to create 10,000 jobs in the UK over the next three years.

The group intends to continue the rapid expansion of the two chains, having already created 2,500 jobs in 2011-12.

The announcement came as Whitbread revealed a 1.8% rise in like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to 16 February.

But this was slower than the 2.4% growth seen in the previous quarter and shares in Whitbread fell 2.9%.

'Soft market'

In its latest trading updateWhitbread said that like-for-like sales at Costa rose 1.8% in the 11 weeks to 16 February, although those at Premier Inn fell 0.9%.

It said that while Premier Inn was winning market share, it was operating in "a soft hotel market in the UK, with a divergence in performance between London and the regions".

Whitbread increased its UK Costa Coffee store numbers by 158 to 1,375 over the past year, and has plans for an additional 10,000 Premier Inn rooms.

Whitbread also runs the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chains.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said the group had delivered good sales growth for the year so far and expected to report in April "another full year of double-digit earnings growth, in line with expectations".

He added that the restaurant business had benefited from better trading over the Christmas period compared with the previous year, which had been heavily affected by snow.

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