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First quarter restaurant sales flat for Beefeater owner Whitbread

Published:  16 June, 2015

Restaurant sales are taking a smaller share of the product mix of Whitbread, the owner of Costa and Premier Inn.

Sales in the company's restaurant business - which includes Beefeater Grill, Table Table, Brewers Fayre and Taybarns - were more or less flat (+0.1%) on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, to May 28, the company said in a trading statement.

Whitbread had a net new opening of just one restaurant in the period, against 37 UK sites for Costa and an additional 333 Premier Inn rooms.

Premier Inn's like-for-likes were up 6.3% and Costa's by 5%.

Total restaurant sales were ahead by 1.6% in the period.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said that growth in the restaurant business was "slightly ahead of a soft pub restaurant market outside the M25".

Operational growth in the year ahead will come mainly from an additional 5,500 Premier Inn rooms and 250 net new Costa stores worldwide, Harrison added.

He said: "Our leading brands continue to win market share as we invest in our people, our customer experience and our infrastructure."

Like-for-like group sales for the quarter were 4.3% ahead of the same period a year earlier with total sales up 12.5%.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of financial comparison site said: "Whitbread's strong first quarter is a clear sign that consumers are feeling more free and easy with their finances.

"For the first time in what seems a long time households have spare cash to spend on treats like take-out coffee and travel thanks to our low inflation environment, and they certainly seem to be making the most of it.

"The hope is that Brits aren't sticking to big brands so smaller businesses can enjoy this comparative boom too."