Ticker WTB

Today's data summary

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Price Pence
As of 13:38 20 Jan 2019
Market cap. Pound sterling
8,851.37 million
As of 13:38 20 Jan 2019

Latest updates

Sage Group leads FTSE risers

Shares in Sage Group, the UK software firm, leapt to the top of the FTSE 100 risers after it said its organic service revenue grew by 7.6% in the first quarter to £465m.

Sage's share price rose 7.3% to 638.7p, closely followed by Primark-owner Associated British Foods whose stock added 5.7% to £23.00 after reporting its results.

Whitbread is one of the morning's biggest fallers, down 4.4% to £45.64, after the pubs and hotel operator gave a cautious outlook for its financial year.

The FTSE 100 is now down 0.47% at 6,830.56.

'Cautious' outlook from Premier Inn owner

Premier Inn bed

Whitbread - the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain - has reported rising sales but says it remains "cautious on UK environment next year given uncertainty and higher inflation".

The company added that it expects underlying profit before tax in the next financial year "to be consistent" with the current financial year.

Total sales at the UK hotel business rose by 3.5% in the three months to 29 November, although like-for-like sales slipped 0.2%.

Including the company's food and drink business - which includes chains such as Brewers Hayre and Beefeater - total UK sales rose 2.5%, with like-for-like sales down 0.6%.

The London market was "strong" in the quarter, Whitbread said, but outside the capital sales continued to weaken due to "lower consumer and business confidence, along with sustained levels of inflation".

Whitbread completed the sale of its Costa Coffee business for £3.9bn to Coca-Cola on 3 January.

Good morning!

Welcome to Business Live this Thursday morning and what will be another roller-coaster day thanks to Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with MPs from across the Commons today to try and find a way forward - and we'll bring you all the reaction from the stock and currency markets.

In the meantime, retailers will continue to publish their trading figures for Christmas.

Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, will give an update as will specialist retailer N Brown.

Whitbread, which has sold its Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola, and Premier Foods, home of Mr Kipling's exceedingly good cakes, will also announce figures.

As always, we'd love to hear from you. Email us at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Costa clearance

Costa coffee machine

The European Commission has cleared the sale of the Costa Coffee chain to US drinks maker Coca-Cola from British restaurant and hotel owner Whitbread.

"The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies do not sell the same products and the links between their activities are limited," the EU executive said in a statement.

Whitbread: 'sentiment remains positive'

Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, has commented on those Whitbread half-year figures,. He said:

Whitbread is in something of a holding pattern at present, with the Costa sale leaving Coca-Cola requiring regulatory approvals. The separation of the business has long been called for by investors and the sale has helped the share price rise by 13% over the last three months. Although the company is in the throes of an important strategic change, sentiment remains positive, with the market consensus of the shares coming in at a cautious buy.

Whitbread Zips it up

Zip room

Whitbread has revealed a bit more about its "innovative new format" called Zip by Premier Inn in its half-year results today.

The company says it is a "significantly different offer" to the traditional Premier Inn and Hub formats and will attract a different customer segment.

"The essence of Zip is good quality, small, very simple rooms targeting a large segment of the market, which is currently underserved; the extra-value seeking customer. Importantly, these target customers do not currently stay at Premier Inn and are dissatisfied with their current options.

"By reducing the room size to 8.5m2 and carefully engineering the design and fittings, return on capital is expected to be comparable to the rest of the network, whilst offering highly compelling prices."

The first Zip will open in Cardiff in the first quarter of next year.

Whitbread happy with half-year figures

Premier Inn

Whitbread says it is on track to meet its full-year forecasts after posting positive figures for the half-year.

Revenue climbed 2.6% to £1,079m while statutory profit before tax was maintained at £257m.

Alison Brittain, Whitbread chief said: "The highlight of the first half was the announcement of our agreement for the sale of Costa to The Coca-Cola Company for £3.9bn."

It said its UK network increased to more than 74,000 rooms.

Yesterday the company announced a new Premier Inn chain called Zip.

Coca-Cola is to buy the Costa coffee chain from owner Whitbread in a deal worth £3.9bn
Coca-Cola is to buy the Costa coffee chain from owner Whitbread in a deal worth £3.9bn.

A potted history of Whitbread

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Whitbread logo

Whitbread was founded in 1742. Here's what they've done since:

  • 1750 - creates the UK's first mass production brewery in east London
  • 1868 - begins manufacturing beer in bottles.
  • 1968 - starts brewing Heineken under licence, giving it a fifth of the UK lager market in just three years.
  • 1974 - the first Beefeater steakhouse opens
  • 1987 - the first Travel Inn follows
  • 1990s - snaps up UK chains including David Lloyd Leisure, Marriott Hotels, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut and Premier Lodge hotels.
  • 1995 - pays £19m in for Costa Coffee when it had 39 outlets.
  • 2000 - the brewery business is sold leaving Whitbread to focus on brands like Costa and Premier Inn