Britain's biggest hotel operator Whitbread is to forge ahead with expansion plans after reporting a 20% growth in full year pre-tax profit.
The firm, which runs Costa coffee stores, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chains and Premier Inn UK hotels, today announced that its underlying pre-tax profit rose by 20.1% to £287.1m in the year to March 3 despite challenging market conditions.
Total revenue was up 11.5% to £1.5b, compared to £1.4b in 2009-10 and group like-for-like sales jumped 6.6% in the year.
Whitbread said it planned to expand the number of Premier Inn rooms by 9% over the next year - adding about 4,000 new rooms and 14 new restaurants. It also aims to expand Costa, introducing a further 300 Costa stores, which will grow the Costa estate by 15%. The growth strategy will create 2,500 new jobs in the UK, the group said.
Andy Harrison, Whitbread chief executive, also unveiled new five-year goals which includes increasing Premier Inn's UK capacity by 50% to at least 65,000 rooms and to double the size of Costa to 3,500 stores worldwide.
There are also plans to open 3,000 Costa Express units - a new brand which targets the self-serve coffee bar sector - over the next five years. This follows the acquisition of Coffee Nation for £59.5m last month.
Speaking about the expansion strategy, Harrison said: "This is an exciting and profitable plan to build on Whitbread's success and to create substantial value for our shareholders."
Whitbread chairman Anthony Habgood added: "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 expansions plans."
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%
By Helen Gilbert
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