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Double-Digit Sales Growth At Whitbread plc

Whitbread (LSE: WTB) — the UK’s largest hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator, whose brands include Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and Brewer’s Fayre — issued an interim management statement this morning about its trading performance for the third quarter and first three-quarters of the year, to 28 November 2013. Despite reporting on what it describes as “another strong quarter”, its share price is currently down over 1.5%.

The company reports that its Premier Inn business has continued to win market share, with total sales for the 39 weeks to 28 November growing by 12.9%, and by 13.7% for the quarter.  Its London market was strong, seeing total sales up 16.3% in the quarter, with  a 13.5% increase during the quarter in its UK regions market. The restaurant market, however, continues to be “challenging”, and only saw 1.8% sales growth during the quarter.

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Total system sales in the the Costa Coffee business grew 19.4% over the three-quarters, within which franchise sales were up 17.3%.  It reports that its Middle East operations “continued to deliver a solid performance”,  while trading in Central and Southern Europe “remained difficult”. Costa Asia, however, saw system sales grow by 53.5%, to £51.9 million, with a marginal improvement in like-for-like sales growth in China over the quarter.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Andy Harrison said:

“Whitbread has delivered another strong quarter, with total sales up 13.8% and like for like sales up 4.3%, driven by the strength of Premier Inn and Costa and an improved performance from Restaurants. This keeps us on track to deliver full year results in line with expectations.

“Our network expansion, as we deliver our growth milestones, combined with a strong focus on returns should continue to generate substantial shareholder value and create many new jobs and career opportunities for our teams.”

Despite this morning’s dip, at 3.467p, Whitbread’s share price is up 43% so far this year , and 359% over the past five years.

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> Jon does not own shares in Whitbread.

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