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Whitbread set for strong annual profit grow as Premier Inn shines
Premier Inn hotels proved the star of the show for hospitality group Whitbread, as today it said it was set for strong annual profit growth.
The hotel chain - advertised by comedian Lenny Henry - saw sales grow 9.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 39 weeks to December 2, while occupancy rates for the current financial year are expected to be 77 per cent, up from 70 per cent last year.
Whitbread, which also owns coffee chain Costa and restaurants including Brewers Fayre, is rolling out aggressive expansion plans across the group and said it remained on target to increase the number of its Premier Inn hotels rooms by around a third, from 43,000 to 55,000 by the end of 2014.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: ‘The positive momentum in our business gives us confidence that despite an uncertain outlook for consumer spending the outturn for the full year will be in line with market expectations for strong profit growth.’
Premier Inn, which generates around a third of Whitbread's profits, saw revenues per available room - a key measure in the hotel industry - increase 9.2 per cent on like-for-like basis in the year to date to £43.70.
The chain has hotels across the UK and Ireland and opened 26 new sites in the year to date. Costa saw same-store sales surge, up 11 per cent in the third quarter, and is on track to have at least 3,000 stores worldwide by the end of 2014/2015.
More than 300 new outlets will have opened by the end of the financial year, bringing the total to around 1,200 in the UK and 650 internationally. Whitbread's restaurants, which also include the Beefeater chain, reported a slowdown in like-for-like sales growth to 1.5 per cent, with the heavy snowfall at the end of the period offsetting the impact of value meal deals on demand.
Hugh-Guy Lorriman, a retail analyst at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, said Whitbread remained on course to meet his forecast for profits of £281 million in the current financial year. However he added that recent harsh weather and the approaching VAT rise in January would make for a challenging final quarter of the financial year.