Whitbread chief exec says it’s ‘started the year well’

Restaurant and hotel group Whitbread has had a good start to the year according to chief executive Andy Harrison, reacting to its latest trading performance data.

“Whitbread has started the year well, with total sales growth for the first quarter of 12.7 per cent and strong like for like sales growth of 6.9 per cent, as anticipated at our Annual Results announcement on 29th April," he said, as the group revealed trading figures covering the 13 week period up to May 29th.

For this time frame, Premier Inn like for like sales were up 9.5 per cent year-on-year, Restaurants sales up 4.4 per cent, Hotels and Restaurants up 7.6 per cent and Costa sales up 4.5 per cent.

In terms of total sales, Premier Inn was up 14.2 per cent (based on international performance), Restaurants 5.4 per cent, Hotels and Restaurants 11 per cent and Costa 15.9 per cent.

The like for like sales figures reflect the pre-IFRIC 13 adjustment state of affairs for restaurants (UK), Costs (UK) and Premier Inn (UK and Ireland).

Premier Inn sales would be higher by 0.1 per cent (like for like) and 0.1 per cent (total) Post IFRIC 13. Both measures would be 0.5 per cent higher for Restaurants. Costa total system sales would be unchanged, like for like 0.1 per cent lower and total sales 0.1 per cent higher.

"Premier Inn and Costa have continued on their rapid growth trajectory, underpinned by strong customer demand," Mr Harrison said.

Sales for Premier Inn benefited from the hotel market being buoyant, pushed by continued expansion in the English capital and more obvious evidence of a recovering economy regionally in the UK, he also said.

The Restaurants business saw a good performance too, he said, with Costa extending an "excellent track record".

He said Whitbread was in a good place to have another positive year with brands still gaining market share, "reinforced by ambitious organic network expansion".

He noted that there are 43 UK Premier Inn venues being constructed and the expectation is that Whitbread will open some 4,500 new rooms in the current year, and five joint site eateries.

Coffee brand Costa is set to open some 300 net new outlets during the year, he added.

Berkeley Scott is a specialist hospitality recruitment agency.