Ticker WTB

Today's data summary

Market closed
% change
Price Pence
As of 16:54 17 Aug 2019
Market cap. Pound sterling
5,477.00 million
As of 16:54 17 Aug 2019

Latest updates

Whitbread sales down

premier inn
Getty Images

Sales at Whitbread's Premier Inns open at least a year fell 4.6% in the first quarter of 2019.

Total sales fell about 1%.

Alison Brittain, Whitbread PLC Chief Executive, said: "We have delivered a resilient performance in the first quarter despite more challenging market conditions and we continue to make good progress with our efficiency programme, which is helping to partially offset another year of high industry cost inflation.

Premier Inn owner in 'strong financial position'

Premier Inn

‘Whitbread is facing a downturn in demand for hotel rooms, as political and economic uncertainty has dented both business and leisure travel," says Laith Khalaf of Hargreaves Landsdown.

"Costs are also rising across the hotel industry, which leaves Premier Inn facing an uphill battle at the moment.

"The company’s in a strong financial position however, particularly given the recent sale of Costa which has loaded up the balance sheet with cash. It’s also pursuing a sensible strategy, building on its strength in the UK, while trialling new formats, and also looking to expand in Germany."

Standard Chartered leads winners on FTSE

Standard Chartered
Getty Images

Trading has just got under way on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 100 index has made a quiet start to the day, up just 0.3% to 7,442.62.

Whitbread is down 2.33%, after posting an almost 40% drop in pre-tax profits, following its sale of Costa Coffee.

Shares in Standard Chartered are up sharply, rising by almost 4.5%, after it announced a share buyback.

The FTSE 250 index has dropped marginally, by 0.14% to 19,882.90.

Political uncertainty weighs on Premier Inn


Having sold Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola for almost £4bn, Premier Inn owner Whitbread's results focus on its hotel operations.

Sales in the UK grew by 3.5%, but Whitbread's pre-tax profits are down almost 40% for the year, to £260m, largely due to the disposal costs of Costa.

The firm is also concerned about the political climate in the country.

"In the fourth quarter, we saw a decline in business and leisure confidence, leading to weaker domestic hotel demand," it states.

"This weakness has increased into March and April particularly in the regional business market, coinciding with an acute period of political and economic uncertainty in the UK."

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.