Whitbread Plc - Interim Results

·   Exceptional items and non underlying adjustments before tax are a cost of £43.4 million (2015/16: cost £36.4 million) predominantly relating to the estimated costs associated with Premier Inn International's withdrawal from India and South East Asia

·   Group return on capital3 of 15.1% (at year end 2015/16: 15.3%). This includes over £400m invested in future hotel openings.

·   Cash generated from operations of £431.4 million (2015/16: £374.1 million) funded capital investment4 of £329.0 million (2015/16: £293.2 million)

·   Strong balance sheet with half year net debt of £988.2 million (at year end 2015/16: £909.8 million) with leverage maintained


Alison Brittain, Chief Executive, said:


"This is another good set of results from Whitbread and we continue to deliver strong growth, with total Group sales increasing 8.1% to £1.6 billion. Our core brands of Premier Inn and Costa continue to win market share with total sales growing 8.9% and 10.7% and like for like sales up 2.4% and 2.3% respectively.


In April this year, I identified three strategic priorities to develop our business: to grow and innovate in our core UK businesses; to focus on our strengths to grow internationally; and to build the capability and infrastructure to support long-term growth. This strategy will enable us to deliver continued growth, maintain good returns on capital and create sustainable value for our shareholders. In addition, through continued investment in our business we are creating new jobs and through our training and apprenticeship programmes we are supporting our teams to develop skills and progress their careers.  


I am pleased to report that we have made good progress in delivering on our three strategic priorities. We will be smoothing the phasing of our openings this year and plan to open c.3,700 new UK Premier Inn rooms and 230-250 new coffee shops worldwide. We are passionate about offering great value, outstanding service and high quality products to our customers and are investing more in driving product and digital innovation.  In our hotels business, we are expanding the network of our new 'hub by Premier Inn' city centre hotels and making progress in consolidating and rejuvenating our restaurant brands. In Costa we are trialling new 'finer' coffee concepts, introducing a new fresher food range and making good progress rolling out our Costa Pronto and Drive Thru formats.


Internationally, in Premier Inn we are focusing on the Middle East and German markets and the process of exiting our operations in India and South East Asia is underway. In the first half, we have ramped up investment in our core systems and infrastructure as this is key to securing our future growth, achieving cost efficiency and sustaining our market-leading brand positions.