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Whitbread unveils a mixed picture in trading update

07 September 2009
Whitbread unveils a mixed picture in trading update

The UK's largest hotel and restaurant operator Whitbread has announced a 2.6% drop in like-for-like sales in the six months up to 13 August.

The operator's budget hotel chain Premier Inn was the worst hit by the recession, experiencing a drop of 7.7% in like-for-like sales, with its Whitbread Hotel and Restaurants unit sliding by 3.6% in comparable sales.

Chief executive Alan Parker commented, "We have yet to see any substantive signs of improvement in the economic environment," said chief executive Alan Parker. He said the group expected to see improvement at the end of the year.

"We face softer Premier Inn comparatives in the second half," he added. "In the absence of any deterioration of trading, we expect the outlook for the full year to be at the higher end of current market expectations."

However, despite the economic climate, the group experienced increases in its coffee and pub restaurant units. Its Costa Coffee chain bolstered the trading results with total sales growing by 18.4% and like-for-like sales up 2.7%. The pub restaurant brands reported a like-for-like sales increase of 2.1%.

Having last year announced plans to cut expenditure in the face of the recession, Parker also commented that Whitbread remains "focused on cost control" and is "on target to deliver our previously announced £25 million cost saving programme."

Today Whitbread announced along with these results, the appointment of ex-Boots boss Richard Baker as non executive director. The Times has speculated that Baker could be being lined up to succeed Alan Parker as chief executive.

Whitbread closes final-salary pension for all staff >>

Premier Inn to open 12 new hotels by 2013 >>

Premier Inn growth stalls in tough market >>

Whitbread appoints Patrick Dempsey as its executive director >>

By Rosie Birkett

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