New Premier Inn corporate business up 12%
Whitbread has predicted it will beat market estimates for the financial year 2009/10.
The UK's largest hotel and restaurant group said its full year results would "somewhat exceed the top end of market estimates", in an interim management statement released today (December 14).
Whitbread reported a rise in sales of 4.3% in the 39 weeks to date, although like for like sales were down 1.7%.
The like for like sales figures do not include the results from the 13 new Premier Inn hotels and five pub restaurants that Whitbread has opened this year.
In the third quarter, total sales were up 6.7%.
Whitbread said the improved performance was due to "positive momentum in sales and our rigorous cost control."
While Whitbread's hotel chain Premier Inn reported a continued fall in sales, the decline in like for like sales has halved in the last three months.
Business guests at Premier Inn have risen, with new Business Account customers up 12% compared to last year.
"Our commercial action plan is delivering," said Whitbread.
"We continue to roll out dynamic pricing [and] widen distribution channels."
While Whitbread owns the majority of its properties, it has sold a few plots to raise cash.
Whitbread said: "We intend to selectively use a limited amount of our property as an additional source of funding for expansion.
"We have therefore over recent weeks been undertaking a small sale and leaseback transaction involving five properties to test the market."
The group's capital expenditure for this financial year is set at £170m.
"We continue to grow prudently, focusing on high returning projects and building our landbank for future development."
While Whitbread is optimistic about this year's results, it predicted that the challenging market conditions would continue into next year.
"Whitbread's improving performance is a result of both our action to gain market share and the trend for business and consumers to seek strong value for money brands," said Whitbread.