Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 09:17 UK

'Value brands' boost Whitbread

Premier Travel Inn
Premier Inn is seeing strong demand from corporate customers

Leisure firm Whitbread said its "resilience" in the economic downturn was thanks to its brands being at the "value for money" end of the market.

The owner of the Premier Inn budget hotel chain, Beefeater and Costa Coffee saw half-year profits jump by 24%.

Whitbread said pre-tax profits from ongoing business rose to 123.3m in the six months to 28 August after like-for-like sales improved by 7%.

Premier Inn has benefitted as the weak economy hit corporate travel spending.

"Whilst we anticipate that conditions will become more challenging in the remainder of the year, since the end of August the group continues to make good progress across our leading brands in the value for money sectors," said chief executive Alan Parker.

'Trade down trend'

Premier Inn saw sales rise 10.1% excluding newly opened hotels, with occupancy rate at close to 80%.

The chain had "benefited from the trend for corporate customers to trade down to budget hotels in the economic downturn," it said.

Meanwhile Costa Coffee continued to expand during the period, opening 84 new UK stores taking the total number of outlets to 775. It had 1,121 stores worldwide by the end of August.

"Although consumers are undoubtedly under increasing pressure and carefully monitoring discretionary spending, customer feedback indicates that Costa remains an everyday affordable treat," the firm said.

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