Upbeat Whitbread creates more room at the Inn

Whitbread owns Premier Inns
Whitbread owns Premier Inns
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Premier Inn and Costa coffee owner Whitbread saw sales lift as its budget hotel chain added over 300 rooms in the first three months of its year.

Whitbread said its Premier Inn hotels, promoted by adverts featuring soon-to-be knighted comedian Lenny Henry, added 333 rooms in the 13 weeks to May 28 which helped it lift group sales by 12.5 per cent.

It added sales at the national hotel business were up 14.3 per cent over the period, driven by a combination of strong like-for-like sales growth of 6.3 per cent and an 8.2 per cent increase in rooms available. Occupancy also remained high at 80.6 per cent.

Whitbread said Costa had “another excellent quarter” with sales jumping 17.2 per cent, backed by 5 per cent growth in like-for-like sales as it won more customers. The group also brought forward the start date of its first female chief executive Alison Brittain to this year, from next February.

Chairman Richard Baker said Ms Brittain, currently head of Lloyds Banking Group’s retail division, will join the FTSE 100 business as chief executive designate on September 28.

She will then take up her full role as chief executive on December 7, succeeding current boss Andy Harrison, who will retire from the business.

The group said its plans for expansion were on track, reiterating its intention to open around 5,500 Premier Inn rooms in the UK this year. It also plans to open 250 Costa stores worldwide and between 700 and 800 Costa Express machines this year.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The twin turbos of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn continue to fire as Whitbread benefits from the momentum it has built over a considerable period of time.”