Whitbread’s Premier Inn sees sales growth slow

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Car Rental News - 03/03/2011


The pace of sales growth has dropped at Premier Inn, says Whitbread.

Whitbread, the UK’s biggest hotel operator, has reported a drop in the pace of sales growth at the Premier Inn hotel chain. The news comes as Whitbread completes its acquisition of Coffee Nation in a deal worth £60 million.

Sales at Premier Inn hotels that were open for at least a year grew at just 5.1 per cent in the quarter to 17 February. This was a substantial drop from the 8.7 per cent recorded in the last quarter.

Andy Harrison, who joined Whitbread as CEO last year after having been chief executive at easyJet, says it is too early to determine if Premier Inns is suffering as a result of the effect of higher VAT and fuel costs. Speaking to the press via conference call, Harrison said it was very hard to make that assessment with any degree of precision.

Harrison went on to say that weather patterns distort the figures and make it hard to compare quarters. It is still too early to see the effect of higher VAT but higher oil prices are starting to translate to higher prices on forecourts.

Whitbread has managed to turn in strong performances on a consistent basis throughout the financial downturn. The group’s Premier Inn chain focuses on providing value for money and its Costa Coffee network is seen by consumers as providing affordable luxury.

Prices for rooms at Premier Inn have been cut to as low as £29 per night in a bid to attract business and leisure travellers scaling back from hotels in the four-star and five-star range

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