Whitbread’s 12,000 jobs aim

Whitbreads aims to create jobs with new Costa Cafes, (above) the original Costa shop.
Whitbreads aims to create jobs with new Costa Cafes, (above) the original Costa shop.
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Whitbread has vowed to step up expansion of its Premier Inn and Costa chains in a move set to create 12,000 jobs over the next five years.

The latest pledge by the leisure group, which also owns Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants, came as it reported an 11 per cent rise in underlying profits to £356.5m for the year to February 28.

Having created 3,000 UK jobs over the financial year, it announced new targets today which will see it grow Premier Inn by 45 per cent to around 75,000 rooms and double coffee chain Costa’s sales to around £2bn.

Whitbread has 40,000 staff serving 22m customers every month at more than 2,500 UK outlets. In the last year, it sold 14m Premier Inn rooms, 46m restaurant meals and 320m cups of Costa coffee.

The continued strong demand ensured revenues rose by 14.2 per cent to £2bn, with the sales figure up by 3.7 per cent when recent expansion is stripped out.

Chief executive Andy Harrison described today’s results as “excellent” and said that during the economic downturn of the last five years the company has grown its sales by 11 per cent a year and profits by 12 per cent a year.

His latest targets for the group are on top of the five-year milestones set two years ago for the group to grow Premier Inn to 65,000 rooms and for Costa sales of £1.3bn.

Premier Inn opened 4,242 rooms during 2012/13, taking the total to 51,671, and Whitbread said it expects half the additional 23,000 rooms planned by 2018 will be achieved by expanding into new catchment areas.

The hotels business increased revenues by 13.1 per cent to £853.8m in the year, with the figure ahead by 3.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Costa’s profits jumped by 29 per cent to £90.1m after worldwide sales reached £1bn for the year, an increase of 22.6 per cent on a year earlier.

In April 2011 it targeted an increase in sales from £659 million to £1.3bn by 2016 but in light of today’s performance it said its new milestone was now to double sales to around £2bn by 2018.

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