LONDON (SHARECAST) - Although like-for-like (LFL) sales growth in the group's fiscal second quarter slowed from the preceding quarter, hotels and restaurants group Whitbread still managed to outstrip market expectations.
Total sales in the 11 weeks to August 16th were up 14.8% year-on-year, an improvement on the 13.9% year-on-year increase seen in the preceding 13-week period.
On a LFL basis, however, sales growth slowed to 4.2% from 4.5% in the preceding quarter. Nevertheless, broker Jefferies had predicted "flattish" LFL sales, adding credence to the claim by Whitbread Chief Executive Andy Harrisons that the group's brands had outperformed in a tough economic climate.
Looking at those brands, Costa Coffee was once again the star performer although, as expected, the breakneck LFL sales growth of the first quarter was not repeated.
Costa's LFL sales in the reporting period were up 5.7% year-on-year, having risen a startling 8.4% in the preceding quarter. Credit Suisse had pencilled in a growth figure of 3.0% for Costa Coffee.
The Premier Inn division's LFL sales were up 3.2%, versus 4.3% in the first quarter, and Credit Suisse's forecast of zero growth. Total revenue per available room (revPAR) growth of 1.9% represented a slowing down in growth from the first quarter growth rate of 3.0%. The London Olympics provided a modest benefit, largely through increased prices, as occupancy rates were slightly down on last year.
The restaurants division saw LFL sales growth of 4.9%, up from 2.1% in the first quarter and way ahead of the 1% growth tipped by Credit Suisse. Together, the Hotels & Restaurants division saw LFL sales grow 3.8% in the first quarter, up from 3.4% in the first quarter.
The economic challenges and variable trading month-by-month continue, Harrison said, although you would not necessarily realise the truth of the former claim based on this trading performance.
"We remain on track to deliver our ambitious growth programme, with our strong brands winning market share," Harrison said.