By Marcus Leach

Whitbread bucked the weak UK retail market trend to show improved sales for the last three months thanks largely to strong sales at their Costa Coffee stores.

Sales were up 22.5% for the same period last year, pushing total sales up for the group to 9.2%.

Further sales increases were reported for their Premier Inns chain due to strong sales in London, leading to an 8% growth.

However, chief executive Andy Harrison confirmed restaurant trading was affected by "a more difficult casual dining market".

Costa Coffee was also boosted by the opening of 73 new stores.

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