Leisure: Whitbread reports strong summer for Premier Inn and Costa

Premier Inn and sister company Costa enjoyed a busy summer trading period, owner Whitbread said toda

Premier Inn and sister company Costa enjoyed a busy summer trading period, owner Whitbread said today. - Credit: PA

Whitbread today described the hotel market as buoyant after seeing its Premier Inn chain deliver another set of impressive sales figures.

Premier’s like-for-like sales jumped 9.2% in the 11 weeks to August 14, helped by the improving economy as well as special events such as Farnborough Air Show and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Whitbread’s coffee shop chain Costa also reported a strong summer as sales rose by 7.3% on a same-store basis. Across the group, which also includes restaurant brands such as Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, underlying sales were 6.8% higher.

The group said Premier’s growth was particularly strong in the UK regions, with revenues per available room up 10.1% in the February to August period and occupancy at 82.9% - a rise of four percentage points on a year earlier.

Across the estate, which features more than 57,000 rooms, total occupancy was at an all-time high of 87% in the most recent 11 week period.

Whitbread plans to open 4,500 new Premier Inn rooms and five joint site restaurants along with the addition of 300 Costa stores this year.

Costa total sales grew by 17.8%, aided by weak comparatives from last year’s warmer than average July.

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Whitbread shares were slightly lower following the update, having risen by around 39% over the last year.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: “This is an impressive update which again underlines Whitbread’s credentials as a true growth stock.

“The trading performance has once more been bolstered by the contributions from its flagship Costa and Premier Inn brands, whilst the restaurants arm also made market-beating progress, albeit at a lower rate.”

Today’s update led Numis Securities to increase its forecast for full-year earnings by 3% to £508.6million.