Whitbread issues trading update, new chief faces earlier start

Costa store

Whitbread said this morning that it had begun the new financial year “well”, with sales growth for the first quarter reaching 12.5% and like-for-like sales up 4%.

The firm said the rise was driven by continued momentum in Premier Inn and Costa, with both brands continuing to post strong revenues. Costa sales were up 16% to £375m.

Whitbread also revealed that its new chief executive will actually join the company earlier than it had originally indicated. From 28 September she will work alongside outgoing boss Andy Harrison before taking over on December 7 when he retires. The company said it hoped the arrangement would ensure a “smooth transition”.

In terms of its restaurant business specifically, like-for-like sales grew just 0.1%, slightly ahead of a soft pub restaurant market outside the M25, according to the company. Overall restaurant growth increased almost 2%.

Whitbread chairman Richard Baker had good news for suppliers as he added that the group’s opening pipeline was looking good.

“This year we plan to open around 5,500 new Premier Inn UK rooms and around 250 net new Costa stores worldwide. Our committed UK pipeline has grown to 13,339 rooms and construction is underway on 42 new hotel sites as well as 19 hotel extensions.”

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