Hilton Group has reported strong profit growth in its first four trading months of this year on the back of a good performance by its UK hotels.
In the four months to 31 October, pre-tax profits leapt 19% before goodwill.
Hilton Group, which operates Hilton hotels outside the USA and includes betting chain Ladbrokes, reported increased revenue per available room (revpar) around the globe.
In the UK, year-on-year revpar figures were up by 9.4% in July, slipping back to 1.5% in October.
London was the best-performing area, growing by 4.2% in October from a high of 15% in July. The provinces showed a drop of 1.4% in October, but had shown good gains in the previous three months.
Group chief executive David Michels said the hotel figures marked "the first of three promising years" and he expected 2006 revpar levels to be at least as high as those in 2000.
But he admitted the recovery had slowed in the second half of 2004 and "costs remain a challenge".
This month, Hilton instructed agent Christie & Co to sell 11 hotels, adding to the four sold earlier in the year, and Michels said more sales were planned.
Hilton has also applied for permission to put a casino in its Paddington hotel in London. If successful, this would help Hilton gain a licence to put a big casino in its Blackpool hotel.