Belfast Telegraph

Whitbread cheers 4.3% sales growth at Costa Coffee

Whitbread has seen sales at its Costa Coffee chain perk up, but revealed a slowdown at its restaurants arm.

The group said like-for-like sales grew 4.3% across Costa in the 13 weeks to December 1.

Shares fell 5% as it also revealed a 1.5% fall in like-for-like sales at its restaurants, which include Beefeater and Brewer's Fayre.

It also revealed the impact of a widespread expansion programme on its Premier Inn hotels, and said the budget hotels sector had missed out on a boost from the recent influx of tourism since the pound's Brexit plunge.

Rather than staying in budget accommodation , it said, tourists flocking to London to take advantage of the weak pound were choosing upmarket hotels.

While like-for-like hotel revenues rose 1.8% in the quarter, revenue per room fell 1.3% and was 4.2% lower in London.

The group said despite the sales fall, its pub restaurants outperformed a "soft" market outside the M25.

It said the Costa sales hike came after a new advertising push, as well as extra trading days.

On a comparable basis to November 26, like-for-like Costa sales were 2.9% higher.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said the group was making "good progress" on its expansion plans.

It aims to open around 3,700 new UK Premier Inn rooms, another 230 to 250 Costa coffee shops worldwide, and to install at least 1,500 new Costa Express machines.