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Good start to year

Whitbread to accelerate growth overseas

Premier Inn at Lomondgate

Whitbread said it had started the year positively with its Premier Inn chain winning market share and plans to accelerate the pace of expansion into China and other overseas markets.

Commenting on first quarter trading figures showing like for like sales up 2.9%, chief executive Alison Brittain said: “We have had a good start to the year, with first quarter sales growth of 7.6%, in line with our expectations.

“Our continued drive to grow and innovate in our core UK businesses, focus on our strengths internationally and build capabilities to support long-term growth, combined with our ongoing cost efficiency programme, gives us confidence that we will make further good progress this year.”

Premier Inn continued to win overall market share with strong sales growth of 9.2% as the company benefitted from a resilient hotel market and the contribution from the c.9,000 rooms we opened over the last two years.

The company has opened hotels in Scotland, including its Hub brand, and plans another in the Haymarket development in Edinburgh.

“Our digital development team continued to innovate for our customers and we launched our personalised business to business booking platform that helped to maintain our direct bookings at 94% of sales,” said Mrs Brittain.

Total UK occupancy was up compared to the first quarter last year at 79.2%, at the same time as whitbead increased our capacity.

Coffee chain Costa grew sales by 8.7% and in May it officially opened its Roastery giving the company capacity to grow over the next 20 years and provide it with a centre for coffee innovation and training.  

In Germany Premier Inn hotel in Frankfurt is performing well and there is a pipeline of five hotels. Costa, is seeing good progress in China with positive like for like sales growth and the company intends to accelerate the development of its businesses in these markets and continues to look for opportunities to grow more quickly. 

The company expects proceeds of around £100-150 million from sale and leaseback transactions this year. 

Mrs Brittain said: “We have a clear plan to deliver growth in our existing estate and remain on track to open c.4,200 hotel rooms, 230-250 Costa coffee shops and install c.1,250 Costa Express machines this year.”


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