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A surprise first-quarter boost for Whitbread

The Costa owner's total sales climb 13.9 per cent.

Beating the forecasts, Whitbread has reported a year-on-year growth in total sales of 13.9 per cent, driven by a like-for-like sales growth of 4.5 per cent for the 13 weeks ended 31 May.

Total sales of the company’s hotel brand Premier Inn grew by 12.4 per cent, with the number of room nights sold increasing by 11 per cent to 3.3 million. Like-for-like revpar (revenue per available room) grew by 3 per cent; occupancy climbed 1.3 percentage points  to 76.2 per cent.

During the quarter, the company opened 1,109 rooms and one joint-site restaurant. For the full year, Whitbread is planning to open around 4,200 rooms and eight joint-site restaurants.

Costa Coffee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitbread, saw total system sales grow by 24.7 per cent to £226.7m. Total franchise system sales increased by 22.5 per cent to £58.8m.

The company opened 35 net new UK stores in the quarter, 29 in UK retail and six in Costa Enterprises. Currently, there are 1,714 Costa Express units. Whitbread is planning to open 350 net new stores and 1,000 Costa Express units during the year.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said:

Our plans for profitable growth are well established, supported by our strong balance sheet, and we plan to open 4,200 Premier Inn rooms, eight joint site restaurants and 350 new Costa stores this financial year, creating an additional 3,500 UK jobs.  We expect comparative quarterly trading to continue to be variable. April benefitted substantially from a weak comparative due to the extended Royal Wedding holiday in 2011.  For the second quarter we face tougher comparatives against a strong result last year, together with the uncertain impact of this summer’s major sporting events.