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TOP NEWS: Whitbread pushes ahead with Premier Inn growth in Germany

12th Jan 2023 10:12

(Alliance News) - Whitbread PLC on Thursday reported strong sales growth in its financial third quarter, both in its core Premier Inn business in the UK and in its target growth market of Germany, as it changes group chief executive.

Whitbread shares were up 4.3% to 2,978.30 pence in London on Thursday morning, one the best performing FTSE 100 shares.

Total sales rose 23% in the 13 weeks to December 1 compared to the same period in 2021 and were up 29% compared to three years ago, before the Covid-19 pandemic. Accommodation sales were up 28% on a year before and 45% on pre-pandemic, but food and beverage sales were up just 9.7% and remained down 1.3% compared to three years ago.

Total sales were up 19% in the UK and 158% in Germany from a year ago. On a like-for-like basis, the rise was similar for the UK at 17%. For Germany, it was 82%.

Whitbread said Premier Inn UK outperformed the midscale and economy market, driven by both increased occupancy and higher average room rates. Occupancy was 85.5%, average room rate was GBP74.95, revenue per available room was GBP64.12.

For Premier Inn Germany, the same figures for the third quarter were 61.9%, GBP76.95 and GBP47.64. Whitbread has 45 hotels open in Germany and 36 more openings in the pipeline.

The company confirmed its improved guidance for financial 2023 of a pretax loss in Germany of between GBP40 million and GBP50 million. It had guided that loss at GBP60 million to GBP70 million at the time of its annual results back in April.

"The outlook for our German hotels remains very encouraging, and we remain committed to our long-term strategy," Whitbread said.

Whitbread's financial year ends at the start of March. It will report its full-year results on April 25.

"The strength of our forward booked position, robust pricing, estate growth and efficiency programme all underpin our confidence in the outlook for [financial] 2024," said Chief Executive Officer Alison Brittain.

"In Germany, our potential remains significant and we are well on the way to unlocking substantial value in this large and exciting market."

Thursday's trading update was the last by Brittain. She hands over the CEO post to Dominic Paul next week but remains a director until March 2. Paul is the former CEO of Domino's Pizza Group PLC and before that was CEO of coffee shop chain Costa Coffee.

Brittain has been CEO of Whitbread since 2015, joining from Lloyds Banking Group PLC. Under her leadership, Whitbread, which was founded as a brewer in 1742, doubled down on its hotel business, Premier Inns. It sold Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola Co in 2019 and launched the Premier Inns business in Germany.

"We have a strong balance sheet and compelling growth opportunities both in the UK and in Germany, and having worked with Dominic, I know that he will bring great energy and drive to delivering them," Brittain said.

She recently became non-executive chair of homewares retailer Dunelm Group PLC.

By Tom Waite, Alliance News editor

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