Leisure group Whitbread today said like-for-like sales were down 2.7 per cent after a sharp reversal in trading figures at budget hotel brand Premier Inn.
Whitbread, which also operates the Costa Coffee, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre brands, said revenues from Premier outlets open more than a year were down 7.9 per cent, with the figure per available room showing a decline of 9.6 per cent.
The group said Premier was up against tough comparatives after strong growth in recent years.
Overall, it said the group started the new financial year in line with expectations, with total sales 2.5 per cent higher in the 13 weeks to May 28 and the like-for-like figure down 2.7 per cent.
Whitbread praised the performance of its Costa chain, which improved same-store sales by 2.6 per cent after a `market-leading’ period of trading.
Excluding its airport coffee shops, the figure would have been 4.5 per cent higher.
The group underlined its confidence in the chain’s prospects by opening 49 new UK stores in the first quarter, taking its estate to 930 outlets.
Whitbread added that its pub restaurants were outperforming their competitors, with like-for-like sales up two per cent as a result of new menus and the positive impact of an ongoing refurbishment programme.
In the first quarter of the financial year it refurbished a further 32 units - just under 10 per cent of the estate - at a cost of around £4m.
At Premier, Whitbread said initiatives such as its Business Account card, which increased 14 per cent year-on-year, were helping the brand in a declining market.
It recently targeted more of the leisure sector with the launch of Premier Offers, with hotel rooms from £29 per room per night.
In the period it opened six new hotels and 838 new rooms, leaving Whitbread on track to deliver some 2,000 new rooms in the UK and overseas this year.