Strong hotel growth drives profit at Whitbread

28 February 2007 by
Strong hotel growth drives profit at Whitbread

Whitbread is on course for profits at "the top end of expectations" for the current financial year, driven by strong growth in its hotel business, the leisure giant revealed today.

In the company's pre-trading statement which covers the first 50 weeks of its financial year to 15 February, it said total sales at Premier Travel Inn were up 16.5% with like-for-like sales increasing by 8.1%.

Costa Coffee also enjoyed strong growth with like-for-like sales up 6.7% while the Pub Restaurants division, incorporating the Brewers Fayre and Beefeater chains, saw a total sales increase of 2.6% with like-for-like sales up by 0.7%.

Across the whole company, which also includes the David Lloyd sports centre business, like-for-like sales for the 50-week period were up 4.3%, up on the 3.9% rise reported after 39 weeks.

Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker said: "Trading for the group has strengthened throughout the year, with further increases in sales growth in all our businesses.

"We expect the full year outcome to be at the top end of the range of market expectations."

City analysts were forecasting pre-tax profits of between £202m and £214m for the year to 1 March before today's update. Whitbread made £181.1m last year.

Whitbread has been selling pubs and restaurants such as Pizza Hut and TGI Friday's to focus on its budget hotels and coffee shops, as well as returning cash to shareholders.

Parker said remodelling of the company is now complete.

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By Daniel Thomas

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