By Jonathan Davies

The owners of brands like Costa Coffee, Premier Inn and several pub chains has reported an 18.5% in annual pre-tax profits.

Whitbread said its underlying profits were up to £488.1m after a welcome boost from Costa.

But there was also an 11.1% rise in revenues from its hotels and restaurants.

Outgoing chief executive Andy Harrison also moved quickly to deny reports than Whitbread was looking to sell Costa. Whitbread bought the coffee chain from the Costa brothers in 1978, seven years after they launched the company. At the time, it had just 41 stores. But it now has around 3,000 around the world with 1,800 in the UK.

"We have absolutely no plans [to sell Costa]", said Mr Harrison told the BBC. "We've laid out plans to grow Costa again by 80% over the next five years."

Mr Harrison will leave his post as Whitbread chief executive to join home furnishings company Dunelm Mill as chairman in July.