Whitbread continues to deliver “ambitious organic growth plans”

<p>The group reports total sales growth of 11.1 per cent.</p>

Whitbread – the group behind Premier Inn and Costa Coffee – has reported its results for the 11 weeks to August 13th.

During the period, the group reports that it saw total sales up 11.1 per cent, while like-for-like sales were up by 3.3 per cent.

In a statement, chief executive Andy Harrison said that the company's positive first half performance means it is on track to deliver full-year expectations, along with ambitious growth milestones.

"This year we plan to open around 5,500 UK rooms, around 220 net new Costa stores worldwide and to install 700-800 new Costa Express machines. Our committed UK hotel pipeline has grown to 14,106 rooms.

Mr Harrison noted that Premier Inn's total sales grew by 11.6 per cent and rooms available grew by 7.9 per cent. He added that performance was particularly strong in London, where total sales grew by 21.1 per cent, driven by a 20.3 per cent growth in rooms available.

He noted that August is often affected by weather and holiday patterns. Trading this August was "softer than expected" across all brands compared to strong results for the month last year.

Costa grew its worldwide total sales by 16.7 per cent and like-for-like sales by 4.6 per cent over the previous 24 weeks.

National Living Wage

Whitbread has also announced some of its plans for dealing with the recently announced National Living Wage.

Beginning in April, employers will be required to pay £7.20 an hour to workers over the age of 25. This will rise to £9 an hour by 2020, replacing the £6.50 minimum wage.

The company says it will mitigate the substantial cost increase over time with a combination of productivity improvements, as well as investment in systems and training, efficiency savings and some price increases.

Further details on how the company will deal with the cost of the new National Living Wage will be provided when the company releases its Interim Results on October 20th.

At midday on Wednesday (September 9th), Whitbread's share prices were up to 4,701.64p.

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