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Whitbread looks to win more market share from independent hotels

05 May 2011 by
Whitbread looks to win more market share from independent hotels

Britain's biggest hotel operator Whitbread has hinted its intention to continue winning market share from the independent hotel sector as it forges ahead with the expansion of its Premier Inn empire.

The group, which runs Costa coffee stores, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chains, last week announced a 20.1% growth in full year pre-tax profit to £287.1m and revealed new five-year targets, which include increasing Premier Inn's UK capacity by 50% to at least 65,000 rooms.

Andy Harrison, Whitbread chief executive (pictured), described Premier Inn as a "big success" story. Sales were up 35% on the same period last year and one million room nights were sold at the £29 rate offer, he said.

"We believe that Premier Inn will continue to win market share and we're winning market share from the independent sector," Harrison told Caterersearch.com. "One of the big advantages of Premier Inn is that when you go to an unfamiliar town you don't quite know what you are going to get. With Premier Inn you get quality and consistency, you know you are going to get good value."

Whitbread plans to expand the number of Premier Inn rooms by 9% over the next year - adding about 4,000 new rooms and 14 new restaurants. Of the 10,500 new hotel rooms in its committed pipeline, 4,000 will be built in this financial year.

The group is also gearing up to double the size of Costa to 3,500 stores worldwide, over the next five years. Of this, 300 Costa stores will open in the UK this year, growing the coffee shop estate by 15%.

In addition, Whitbread plans to open 3,000 Costa Express units - a new brand which targets the self-serve coffee bar sector - over the next five years. The move follows the acquisition of Coffee Nation for £59.5m last month. The firm will begin replacing the existing Coffee Nation self serve coffee machines found in petrol stations, offices and hotels from July and expects to have 500 in place by the end of the financial year.

Speaking about the results, Whitbread chairman Anthony Habgood said: "Whitbread achieved strong revenue, profits and EPS growth in 2010-11 despite market conditions which have become progressively more challenging. Our increasingly focused strategy and drive to meet the needs of our customers enabled us to deliver another excellent set of results with a 17% higher dividend and position us well to accelerate our expansion plans."

HOW WHITBREAD PERFORMED

Group total sales grew strongly by 11.5% to £1,599.6m with Premier Inn up to 10.9% to £698.6m, Costa up to 24.7% to £425.0m and restaurants up 2.7% to £478.7m.

Premier Inn During 2010-11 Premier Inn opened 22 hotels, 2,138 rooms and eight new restaurants. The total UK portfolio at year end was 590 hotels and 43,219 rooms. The international business now has five hotels (1,076 rooms) with 816 rooms in Dubai.

Costa Opened a total of 347 stores taking the total number of stores to 1,217 in the UK and 654 internationally.

Restaurants A focus on value for money offers including two for £10 in Brewers Fayre, two for £11 in Table Table and meal deals at Beefeater helped restaurants deliver like-for-like sales growth of 3.3% in the year, driven by like-for-like covers growth of 5.1%

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By Helen Gilbert

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