Whitbread's value-for-money segments helps boost half-year profits

14 October 2008 by
Whitbread's value-for-money segments helps boost half-year profits

Whitbread's positioning in value-for-money segments has shielded the group from the effects of the credit crunch, helping to boost half-year profits by 24%.

The group, which owns budget hotel chain Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and pub restaurants Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, saw pre-tax profits from continuing operations for the six months to 28 August rising to £123.3m after like-for-like sales improved 7%.

Sales at Premier Inn increased by 17.8% to £311m, with occupancy at 79.3%, a rise Whitbread attributed to the trend of corporate customers trading down.

Costa continued to expand, leaving it with 1,121 stores by the end of August. There were 775 outlets in the UK after adding 84 new sites.

The openings contributed to a 25.6% rise in Costa's revenues to £123m, with like-for-like sales ahead by 3.7% in the first half.

The company did not reveal more up-to-date trading figures, but chief executive Alan Parker said: "Whilst we anticipate that conditions will become more challenging in the remainder of the year, since the end of August the group continues to make good progress across our leading brands in the value for money sectors."

Mark Brumby, leisure analyst at Blue Oar Securities, said: "Whitbread continues to offer a relatively safe haven in what is developing into a rather nasty storm.

"With debt of only £581m, the group remains extremely well-positioned to both ride out the current challenging market and expand when appropriate."

Whitbread did not confirm reports that property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz has sold his 3% stake in the group.

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By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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