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Whitbread reports good Q1 sales growth

Whitbread reports good Q1 sales growth

Whitbread has reported a good start to its financial year, with like for like group sales up 3.1% for the first quarter.

Total sales for the 13 weeks to 30 May 2013 were up 13.8%, the company said in an interim trading update.

Whitbread's portfolio of businesses includes budget hotel group Premier Inn, coffee shop chain Costa Coffee, and restaurant brands Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.

Premier Inn grew total sales by 12.7% and like for like sales rose 2.7% against strong comparatives in the London market last year. Costa benefitted from the cold weather and saw total sales lifts of 24.8%, with like for like growth of 8%.

However the restaurant businesses delivered flat like for like sales in the quarter with cold weather substantially impacting sales at the start of the year, offset by an improved performance over the last few weeks.

"Whitbread had a good start to the new financial year with first quarter Group sales up 13.8% and like for like sales up 3.1%, in line with our plan," commented Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread.

"We see no change to market conditions. Our plans for profitable organic growth are well established which, combined with our strong focus on returns, should create further substantial shareholder value."

Trading update highlights:

• Premier Inn grew total sales by 12.7% with total room nights sold increasing by 10.9% to 3.7 million.
• In London, Premier Inn sales grew by 19.9% as the company increased the number of rooms available by 20.6% year on year. Total revpar declined by 1.8% to £74.34 compared to the competitive set where revpar declined by 3.8% and against a strong market this time last year due to the preparations for the Olympics.
• In the UK Regions, Premier Inn sales grew by 11.0% and our total revpar grew by 1.3% to £38.50.
• 794 rooms and three joint site restaurants were opened in the quarter and for the full year there are plans to open around 4,000 rooms and ten joint site restaurants.
• Costa grew total system sales by 23.1% to £281.8m, with total franchise system sales up 21.6% to £111.8m.
• UK Retail system sales grew by 20.1% to £151.5m, with equity stores delivering like for like sales of 8.0% aided by cold weather at the beginning of the quarter.
• Costa Enterprises (including Costa Express) delivered system sales of £67.1m, up 32.6%. There are now 2,924 Costa Express units.
• Whitbread opened 39 net new UK Cotsa stores in the quarter, 36 in UK Retail and three in Costa Enterprises.
• There are plans to open around 300 net new stores and raise the target to 750 Costa Express units in the full year.

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