Whitbread PLC has reported strong sales growth in its financial third quarter, both in its core Premier Inn business in the UK and in its target growth market of Germany, as it changes group chief executive.
Total sales rose 23% in the 13 weeks to December 1 compared to the same period in 2021 and were up 29% compared to three years ago, before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Accommodation sales were up 28% on a year before and 45% on pre-pandemic, but food and beverage sales were up just 9.7% and remained down 1.3% compared to three years ago.
Total sales were up 19% in the UK and 158% in Germany from a year ago. On a like-for-like basis, the rise was similar for the UK at 17%. For Germany, it was 82%.
It celebrated a strong performance across both London and in the regions as it said its budget offering at Premier Inn appealed to customers during the cost-of-living crisis.
The group has also been boosted after last year’s result was held back by the Omicron variant of Covid, with many people putting off travelling over the 2021 festive season due to the pandemic.
Chief executive Alison Brittain said:
“Premier Inn UK delivered another excellent quarter with a strong performance, both in absolute terms and also relative to the broader midscale and economy sector. The uplift in accommodation sales was driven by a strong performance across London and the regions, with both remaining significantly ahead of last year and pre-pandemic levels and with a well-balanced mix of business and leisure guests. These revenue trends have continued into the fourth quarter, with good occupancy and high average room rates sustaining strong RevPAR growth and UK food and beverage sales remain well ahead of last year. Premier Inn Germany had another robust quarter, led by our cohort of more established hotels that are performing particularly well and are attracting excellent guest scores.
This performance underpins our enthusiasm about the market opportunity and our confidence in being able to achieve a long-term target of 10-14% return on capital. Despite a more challenging period for the UK economy, our winning business model continues to deliver outstanding value and quality for our guests. The strength of our forward booked position, robust pricing, estate growth and efficiency programme all underpin our confidence in the outlook for FY24. In Germany, our potential remains significant, and we are well on the way to unlocking substantial value in this large and exciting market.