* H1 PBT up 12.6 pct to 216.1 mln stg
* Firm on track to hit 2018 expansion targets
* Opened 12 hotels and 153 net Costa stores in H1
LONDON, Oct 22 Britain's biggest hotel and
coffee shop operator Whitbread posted a 12.6 percent
rise in first half profit as new Premier Inn hotels and Costa
Coffee stores helped boost sales.
The group, which also operates pub restaurant chains, on
Tuesday said underlying pretax profit rose to 216.1 million
pounds ($349.18 million) in the six months to Aug. 29, slightly
ahead of a company compiled consensus forecast for 213 million
pounds. Revenue jumped 12.4 percent to 1.14 billion pounds.
Whitbread, which makes almost all its sales in Britain, has
expanded rapidly due to demand from cost-conscious customers for
affordable hotels and a rising popularity for takeaway coffee,
helping underlying pretax profit grow by 12.0 percent per annum
since the onset of the recession.
On Tuesday it said it was on track to meet targets to grow
Premier Inn UK rooms by 45 percent to 75,000 by 2018, and double
Costa's total sales to 2 billion pounds through expansion at
home and abroad, with a particular focus on China.
Total sales at Premier Inn rose 12.2 percent in the first
half, boosted by 12 new hotel openings and strong business-led
trade in London. Like-for-like sales were up 3.3 percent.
Revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key industry measure,
grew ahead of the market at 1.7 percent in London where the firm
is expanding, but lagged peers such as an improving Travelodge
in the regions - where around 85 percent of Premier Inn's rooms
are - growing at 2.1 percent versus 6.0 percent for the sector.
The group also opened 153 net new Costa Coffee stores
worldwide, including 86 in the UK and 30 in China, taking its
total to 2,680 globally, with 1,664 of those in the UK.
Those openings, coupled with strong demand during a cold
first quarter in Britain, helped total sales rise 20.9 percent
to 378.8 million pounds. Underlying UK sales rose 5.5 percent.
Shares in Whitbread, which raised its interim dividend by
11.8 percent to 21.8 pence, were flat at 3365 pence at 0716 GMT,
having risen 43 percent on a year ago.