Costa drives Whitbread expansion

The rapid growth of Premier Inn and coffee chain Costa continued today after their owner Whitbread reported better-than-expected sales figures.

The rapid growth of Premier Inn and coffee chain Costa continued today after their owner Whitbread reported better-than-expected sales figures.

Total sales for the group, which also includes Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants, rose by 13.9% in the 13 weeks to May 31, an increase of 4.5% when the impact of new site openings is stripped out.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said Costa had maintained its "excellent momentum" with an 8.4% rise in underlying sales, while Premier outperformed the mid-market and economy sector following a strong April.

He reiterated plans to create 3,500 new UK jobs this year by opening 4,200 Premier Inn rooms, 350 new Costa stores and eight restaurants.

Whitbread shares jumped 5% after the first quarter trading update.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said the company's recent success had driven shares up by 21% over the last year, compared to a 4% drop for the FTSE 100 Index.

He added: "The twin turbos of Premier Inn and Costa coffee continue to drive Whitbread's momentum."

Whitbread has nearly 50,000 Premier Inn rooms in the UK and Ireland, as well as 389 restaurants and more than 2,000 Costa outlets worldwide.

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