Coffee chain Costa boosts Q3 sales at Whitbread

UK hotel and restaurant group Whitbread plc (LSE:WTB) announced today an increase of 3.3% in like-for-like sales for the third quarter of 2012, boosted by strong performance at its coffee chain Costa, which is expanding its operations.

Sales at Costa outlets open more than a year grew by 7.1% in the 13 weeks to the end of November, with total sales up 25.5%. Whitbread said that it plans to open 330 net new Costa stores worldwide and around 1,300 Costa Express units over the full year.

The group, which also operates hotels and restaurants across the UK, said that its total like-for-like sales increased in all areas of the business during the third quarter. Overall, growth was slower than the 4.3% rise in underlying sales seen in the first half but the first six months of the financial year benefited from Britain’s wet weather and the London Olympic Games, Reuters reported.

In the Premier Inn budget hotel business like-for-like sales were up 2.5% in the third quarter and the company announced that it has opened its 50,000th room in the UK.

The restaurant arm outperformed the market with sales growth of 1.9%, according to the company. This rise was predominantly driven by an increase in spend per head. Whitbread’s restaurant brands include Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.

Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison commented that the economic environment remains challenging but said that the company is on track to deliver full-year results in line with expectations.

Shares in Whitbread were up 4.7% in early deals, the Telegraph reported.

Under its five-year growth plan through to 2015-16 Whitbread is aiming to increase the number of Premier Inn UK rooms to at least 65,000, to add 80-100 new restaurants and to nearly double the size of the Costa business, with global system sales of GBP1.3bn and 3,500 stores worldwide.