Whitbread to return £350m to shareholders
Whitbread has announced it will return £350m to shareholders after strong performances from its budget hotel chain Premier Travel Inn and its Costa Coffee stores.
Sales for continuing Whitbread companies grew year-on-year by 8.6% to £696.5m to 31 August, with profit before tax and exceptional items from continuing operations up by 20% to £109.8m, compared with £90.9m the previous year.
Premier Travel Inn and Costa Coffee saw sales growth of 15.6% to £239.2m and 21.4% to £81m respectively. The coffee brand is set for further expansion in Eastern Europe with contracts signed for 200 stores in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria over the next five years.
David Lloyd Leisure saw like-for-like sales up 2.2% with membership at its highest ever level at 375,000 members.
The decline in sales at pub restaurants slowed but still saw a 6% fall to £296.6m, with the disposal of 222 stand-alone pub-restaurant sites for £497m.
The company also announced its exit from its 50% joint venture in Pizza Hut UK for £112m with net proceeds of £99m and is now formally looking at possibilities for selling its TGI Fridays brand.
Taking into account today's announcement, Whitbread will have returned £1.16b to shareholders since May 2005. The company also pledged a further £50m to its pension fund.
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By Emily Manson
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