Whitbread has announced better-than-expected pre-tax profits for the first half of the year after sales at its coffee chain Costa helped to offset falling sales at its other key brands including Premier Inn and Beefeater.
The UK's largest hotel and restaurant operator reported pre-tax profits of £118.2m in the six months to 27 August.
Although this was 2.7% lower than a year ago, it was higher than analysts had predicted. The figure was boosted by improved sales at Costa Coffee which rose by more than 20% helped by deals and a marketing campaign.
Meanwhile budget hotel chain Premier Inn saw like-for-like sales fall by 7.5%. Revpar (revenue per available room) was down 9.2% but "outperformed the hotel market which was down 11%", according to Whitbread.
The group's pub restaurants had "continued to deliver a robust performance as customers appreciate our attractive value propositions", a statement for Whitbread said, adding that it planned to expand its self-service restaurant chain Taybarns which has completed its first year of trading.
Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker said that in the face of the toughest trading conditions for years, the group had taken "strong actions to outperform the market and reduce costs".
"Encouraging progress has been made, which has continued into the second half of the year," he said.
"We remain confident about the outturn for the year, subject to any marked deterioration in the economic environment."
Whitbread closes final-salary pension for all staff >>
By Kerstin Kühn
E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs