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Whitbread plc Delivers Double-Digit Sales Growth

London, Brent Cross, Costa CoffeeWhitbread (LSE: WTB) is currently up almost 4%, following the release of a trading statement in which it reports double-digit sales growth for the 50 weeks to 13 February 2014, and says that it is on track to deliver full-year results “towards the top end of current expectations”.  The statement also includes figures for the 11 week ‘quarter’ to 13 February, covering the crucial Christmas and New Year trading period.

Total sales were up by 13.2% for the 50 weeks period, and by 14% for quarter, driven, the company says, by “a particularly good Christmas trading period” and “favourable weather comparatives in January”.

Its Premier Inn brand has continued to win market share,  and saw an increase in total sales of 13.3% for the 50 week period and 15.2% for the quarter. The London hotel and restaurants market was strongest, seeing total sales increase 17.0% in the quarter, whilst sales in the  UK regions grew by 14.3%.

The company also reported that its Costa business continued to perform strongly, with total system sales in the 50 weeks growing by 19.2% to £1,152bn,  within which franchise sales increased 16.8%, to £448m. UK Retail system sales rose by 17.6%, but top growth was recorded by Costa Asia, where system sales were up 49.7% (albeit from a relatively low base) to £68.4m.  

Commenting on the statement chief executive Andy Harrison said:

“The strong fourth quarter brings our year to date growth in total sales to 13.2% and like for like sales growth to 4.0%. This puts us on track to deliver full year results towards the top end of current expectations.

At 4,340p, Whitbread’s share price is up over 77% on this time last year, compared with the FTSE 100’s measly 6.6% rise since then. And over five years the story is almost as impressive, with Whitbread’s share price up 483%, versus the FTSE 100’s  76% increase.

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> Jon doesn't own shares in Whitbread.