Whitbread has reported strong sales for the first half of the financial year with pre-tax profits up 24 per cent to £123.3m.
The Premier Inn owner`s results for the six months to August 28 show it is riding out the economic slowdown with group like for like sales up 7 per cent and total revenue up 12.6 per cent to £682.2m.
Whitbread Chief Executive Alan Parker said a "significant factor"†behind the increase in sales had been its expansion of hotel rooms, restaurants and Costa coffee shops over the past year.
He said: “We have made excellent progress in the first half of the year with strong sales and profits growth across the Group. Furthermore, improved productivity and cost management have helped increase the Group operating profit margin despite significant cost inflation.
"Whilst we anticipate that conditions will become more challenging in the remainder of the year, since the end of August the Group continues to make good progress across our leading brands in value for money sectors”.
New menus at Whitbread`s restaurants -†Brewers Fayre, Beefeater, Table Table and Taybarns - as well as a programme of modernisation helped raise the number of covers by 8.4 per cent during the first six months.
The company will continue its strategy to refresh the brands with a focus on Brewers Fayre over the next six months. It plans to spend £5m on updating 40 restaurants.
There are also plans to increase the number of hotel rooms under the Premier Inn brand to 4,000 this year. In the first half, 1,380 new rooms were opened compared to 830 rooms in the first half of last year, bringing the total number of rooms up to 37,231 in 532 hotels in the UK.
The company says it will also continue with its cost saving programme with the aim of saving £25m by the end of 2010/11.
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