Whitbread sees strong financial year

Budget hotel chain Premier Inn has reported a 14% increase in full-year revenue as business travellers continue to downsize, parent company Whitbread said today (April 28).

Results for the year ending February 2009 showed a 24% increase in sales via the Group’s Business Account.

Whitbread said a re-branded Premier Inn had achieved 6% growth in like-for-like sales, while revenue per available room (revPAR) was up 2.8% year-on-year.

“Premier Inn’s value proposition continues to attract corporate customers, and it is now the leading choice brand among business travellers,” Whitbread said.

Whitbread said it had changed the perception of budget hotels resulting in increased sales from corporate travellers.

Overall, the Group saw total revenue increase 9.7% to £1,334.6m (€1,494.26m) from £1,216.7m.

Group like-for-like sales were up 4.9% and profit before tax and exceptional items rose 9.3% to £229.9m from £210.3m.

Earnings per share stood at £0.93, up 18% compared to last year.

Whitbread’s board will propose a full year dividend of 36.55p per share of the back of the results, up 1.5% year-on-year.

Alan Parker, Whitbread’s chief executive, said the Group had achieved “good sales and profit growth in the year.”

“We have strengthened our market leading brands by adding a record number of Premier Inns and Costa stores, whilst significantly improving our restaurant performance,” he said.

“Decisive action has been taken to improve our operating efficiency with margins maintained.”

Mr Parker said a “robust financial position” would benefit Whitbread in the future.

Last month, Whitbread reported falling occupancy at its Premier Inn hotels and a decline in like-for-like sales in the first months of 2009.

At the time Mr Parker said trends had been difficult to find and predicted a “very challenging year” ahead.

“Premier Inn has been impacted by the increasingly harsh economic environment but continues to outperform the market,” Whitbread said today.

“We believe that Whitbread is well placed to maintain and build upon our strong competitive position in the year ahead.”

www.whitbread.co.uk

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