Costa coffee chain gives Whitbread sales lift

The squeeze on consumer spending is failing to deter coffee lovers after the owner of Costa today reported a surge in half-year sales.

The squeeze on consumer spending is failing to deter coffee lovers after the owner of Costa today reported a surge in half-year sales.

The Whitbread-owned coffee chain, which has 1,295 stores in the UK and 1,986 worldwide, saw like-for-like sales growth of 6.6% in the 24 weeks to August 18 and a 25% lift in sales including new store openings.

The surge in total sales is due to the chain’s aggressive expansion plans, which have seen 145 new stores open in the first half and another 155 planned for the rest of the financial year.

Elsewhere in the Whitbread business, the group reported 5% like-for-like sales growth at its chain of budget hotels Premier Inn, while its restaurants division, which includes Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, saw sales dip 1.6%.

The launch of Costa Express - self-serve coffee bars - progressed in the period, with the total number of units now standing at 155.

Costa is in the process of rebranding 760 Coffee Nation units, which are found in service stations across the UK.

Internationally, Whitbread said it opened its 100th Costa store in China.

Premier Inn continues to win share of the hotel market with total room nights sold growing by 6.6% to 5.7 million in the period, Whitbread said.

It reported improved demand in both leisure and business markets, with the increase in occupancy leading to a 4% rise in revenues per room.

Premier Inn opened 1,368 new rooms in the period amid plans to open 4,000 across the full year.

Shares in Whitbread were up nearly 8% today after the trading update.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said set against a gloomy economic backdrop Costa has turned in a robust performance.

He said: “The group continues to build its physical presence within the UK under a disciplined growth strategy and the current indications are positive.”

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