Premier Inn and Costa owner Whitbred to create 10,000 new jobs

THE rapid expansion of budget hotel network Premier Inn and the Costa coffee shops chain is to create 10,000 jobs over the next three years, owner Whitbread said today.

The group, which also owns Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants, has created 2,500 jobs over the past year and intends to recruit a further 10,000 staff in the UK and Ireland by early 2015.

It has plans for 10,000 more Premier Inn rooms and will continue the aggressive expansion of Costa, which has increased its UK store numbers by 158 to 1,375 over the past year.

The ambitious expansion plans were revealed today despite a 0.9% fall in like-for-like sales at Premier Inn in the 11 weeks to February 16, although Whitbred said it had outperformed the overall hotels market, which was down 3% outside London.

Costa continued its “excellent” performance, with sales up 24.4% helped by store openings, while its restaurants division returned to like-for-like sales growth after it came up against weaker comparisons with the previous Christmas, which was hit by Arctic weather.

Whitbread said it was on course to meet expectations for the year to the end of February, although its shares dipped nearly 3% in response to the sales update..

Premier Inn has benefited in recent months from people looking for cheap deals and an advertising campaign featuring comedian Lenny Henry.

Most Read

But the chain, which has added 3,640 rooms so far this year, bringing its total to more than 47,000, said like-for-like sales declined in the most recent 11 weeks, compared to 4.3% growth in the previous 39 weeks of the year.

Whitbread said the market outside London was in decline although the capital was more robust, particularly for more upmarket hotels.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Premier Inn has outperformed its competitive set, benefiting from our commitment to maintain our hotels to a consistent high standard.

“Our scale, strong balance sheet and good returns enable us to continue to expand in line with our plans and win share of the hotel market.”