By Max Clarke

Whitbread Plc (LSE: WTB) has delivered a 12.9% jump in sales in the second quarter 2011, buoyed in particular by a 29% surge in sales at the rapidly expanding Costa coffee chain.

The UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group has embarked on an aggressive expansion programme which will see numbers of Costa outlets top 3,000 nationwide. The group also purchased the smaller Coffee Nation, founded by UK entrepreneur Martyn Dawes, for £60m- less than a decade after founding the self-serve chain.

“It is a great example for British business and entrepreneurship that a start-up company which has created an entirely new niche to better serve the consumer in an innovative way has been sustained over ten years and become part of everyday UK life,” said Dawes about the purchase in March of this year.

The Group have continued to increase sales despite a UK wide decline in consumer confidence that has seen many businesses struggle to remain in the black. The Group are as a result of favourable performance in the UK and worldwide, the fastest growing customer-facing business on the FTSE 100 index, with the prospect of future growth keeping share prices swollen.

Whitbread’s strong performance has also been driven by 12.5% year-on-year growth at Premier Inn, thanks in-part to a comprehensive online and national television advertising drive as well as rapid expansion in China.

“We have traded well in the first 24 weeks as a whole,” commented Andy Harrison, the Group's Chief Executive. “On a month by month basis, trading continues to be variable with the second quarter benefitting from a strong June, whilst the first quarter was held back by a poor April. This variability is not surprising in the continuing uncertain economic environment.”


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