Whitbread sees double-digit growth

Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group, has reported a double-digit growth in sales for the six months ending August 2012.

Whitbread’s financial highlights included seeing its total revenue up 14.2% to £1,018.1m (2011/12: £891.3m) and group like-for-like sales up 4.3%.

Its underlying profit before tax was up 10.6% to £193.4m in addition to hotels and restaurants’ underlying profit up 8.5% to £181.3m. Its brands include Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Taybarns and Costa Coffee.

The company reported a strong cash flow from operations, which were up 11% to £285.3m and a strong balance sheet.

Premier Inn UK grew total sales by 12.9% and opened 1,591 net UK rooms. In 2012/2013, the company plans to grow Premier Inn by adding 4,200 rooms (30 hotels) and six new restaurants. It is also looking to add around 350 new Costa Coffee stores globally and will place 1,000 Costa Express machines.

Whitbread chairman Anthony Habgood said: "Whitbread is continuing on its rapid profitable organic growth path in difficult economic conditions. This is due to our unrelenting customer focus and the use of our strong balance sheet to invest in building powerful brands, developing our people and renewing our estate."

Chief executive Andy Harrison added: "The combination of our strong sales growth and good returns drove an 11% increase in cash flow from operations to £285.3m. This created the financial capacity to continue investing in our brands and the quality and breadth of our estate, finance our organic growth and the 11.4% increase in the interim dividend," he added.

Expecting to see continued rapid growth in total sales on track towards its five-year milestone, the company stated: "We have also set out new growth milestones – by 2016 we plan to have at least 65,000 Premier Inn rooms in the UK, to have 3,500 Costa stores worldwide, and 3,000 Costa Express machines."

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