Peach Report

Whitbread reports double-digit growth

26 April, 2012

Whitbread saw double-digit growth across its business last year, with total sales increasing 11.2% to £1,778m. Underlying profits at its Costa coffee chain grew 38% to £1,69.7m, with restaurants delivering an "improved second half".

Underlying group pre-tax profit for the year to 1 March climbed up 11.3% to £320m. Group like for like sales were up 2.6% over the year.

Hotels and restaurants saw underlying profits up 4.3% to £296m, with  Premier Inn delivering a 8.3% increase in total sales to £756m. Restaurants, including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Table Table, saw sales up 1.8% to £483m, with ike-for-likes turning positive in the last six months.

Costa had "another outstanding year", the company said, growing total sales by 27.5% o £542m and like for like sales by 5.5%. It increased the number of UK stores by 175 over the year, with another 157 openeing overseas, bringing the total to 2,203. 

Chief Executive Andy Harrison, said: "Whitbread's profit growth, combined with our good return on capital, drove a strong cash inflow from operations of £478.3 m. This funded reinvestment of £307.9m  in maintaining and growing our estate, together with a 15.2% growth in the full year dividend.
"We remain on track to achieve our five year growth milestones. In Premier Inn UK, we have nearly 58,000 rooms in our existing estate and committed pipeline, taking us towards our 2016 milestone of 65,000 rooms. Last year we grew Costa's worldwide network by 18%, well on the way towards our five year goal of doubling the size of Costa.
"In the new financial year both Premier Inn and restaurants have shown positive like for like sales growth and Costa has continued its good momentum, both in the UK and internationally. Trading in 2011/12 was variable month by month and we expect this to continue with short term comparatives affected by the phasing of bank holidays and the Olympics."
Improving restaurant sales

Like-for-like sales in the restaurants business fell by 0.2% for the year as a whole, but increased lfls by 1.2% in the second half of the year with covers up 4.8%.  "We are focused on improving operational performance by strengthening our brands and customer propositions, appointing a dedicated management team, both centrally and at site level, which has helped drive sales, operational excellence and cost efficiencies," added Andy Harrison
"Our restaurants management has pursued a number of activities aimed at increasing sales and attracting more customers.  These included the continued roll out of the Buffet Place concept within the Brewers Fayre estate.  A total of 71 sites were converted in the year taking the total to 95 and these achieved an average sales uplift of 6% on conversion.  In addition we made our Premier Inn breakfast fully available to the public and installed Costa 'bean to cup' coffee machines across the estate.
"To improve operational performance we launched three Skills Academies, which were set up to improve the training for managers and team members in food quality and service.  Already 1,700 delegates have passed through these Academies and there are plans for 9,000 team members to attend in 2012/13.  To mitigate food, labour and utilities inflation we plan to improve cost efficiency through better procurement, menu management and labour scheduling.
"We continue to expand our restaurant estate and opened 12 new sites in the year, taking our total to 387, and plan to open a further six new sites in 2012/13."

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