Whitbread to boost food standards after horsemeat scandal as sales growth slows

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Whitbread

Whitbread saw a steady like-for-like sales growth of 3.7 per cent for the 50 weeks to 14 February
Whitbread saw a steady like-for-like sales growth of 3.7 per cent for the 50 weeks to 14 February
Whitbread, which owns the Premier Inn, Beefeater and Costa Coffee chains, saw a 12.9 per cent sales growth in the 50 weeks to 14 February 2013, and the company is now launching a full investigation into its meat supply chain after falling foul of the horsemeat scandal earlier this month. 

Total like-for-like sales for the hospitality operator, which also has the Table Table and Brewers Fayre pub groups within its portfolio, were up 3.7 per cent for the same period and the firm says it is now ‘on-track to deliver full-year results in line with expectations.

“Our strong brands continue to win market share, supported by our highest ever guest satisfaction scores and rapid expansion of our network,” said Whitbread’s chief executive Andy Harrison.

“Good like for like sales growth demonstrates the consumer appeal of our brands and also enables us to reinvest in our people and facilities and to grow our estate.”

Horsemeat revelations

But in another, separate statement released this morning, Whitbread said it was ‘dismayed’ by the discovery of horsemeat in two of its products on 14 February​- coincidentally the last day of it's 50-week trading update. The company is now planning a new system of traceability and will include clear tracking of ingredients on its menus.

The statement reads: “We are taking a wide range of actions to guarantee the quality and specification of our products and give our customers confidence in the integrity of our food. These include:

•      Extending our independent batch testing of processed meats to ensure that supplies meet our demanding product specifications   
•      Requiring certification from suppliers for all processed meat products 
•      Planning a completely new system of traceability to include a clear tracking of ingredients from ‘field to fork’.

“Our customers have reacted positively to the actions that we’ve taken​and our restaurants continue to trade well.  We expect to have newly sourced and certified beef burgers back on our menus this week.”

Organic growth

Whitbread’s restaurants business was also affected by the adverse weather conditions in January,​which were reflected by the suppressed like-for-like sales growth of 2.7 per cent for the last quarter.

Harrison concluded: “We see no change to market conditions, although we expect a more competitive environment. We shall continue to deliver good organic growth and are on track to achieve our 2016 growth milestones.”

Over the 50 weeks, total system sales for Costa were up by 22.4 per cent to £962m while franchise sales were up 18.5 per cent to £383.3m.

Meanwhile, Premier Inn increased its total room nights sold by 11.2 per cent to 13m, with RevPAR growing by 1.6 per cent for the year to date.

Premier Inn’s latest London opening comes in the form of a 14-storey tower building situated opposite County Hall on the South Bank. It will open next Monday (4 March).

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