11/12/2012 09:05 GMT

Costa Coffee Owner Whitbread Reports Strong Results Amid Row Over Starbucks Tax

Whitbread, owner of Costa Coffee, Premier Inn and Beefeater, has reported strong sales in the run up to Christmas.

The group, which is the UK's largest hotel and restaurant collective, said total sales had risen by 14.4%, with like for like sales growth rising by 3.3%.

Costa Coffee has seen a 6.9% like-for-like sales rise - thought to be in part thanks to public opinion swaying against big rival Starbucks after its recent unpopularity over its corporation tax payments.

Its restaurants, including Beefeater, have increased sales 2.9%, and Premier Inn continued to perform well too - total sales growth was more than 12%, with like for like growth rising by 2.5%.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said in a statement on Tuesday that while trading remains challenging in this difficult economic environment, Whitbread was "on track to deliver full year results in line with expectations".

Business analyst Nick Hood from Company Watch told Huffington Post UK that Whitbread was "well positioned" in the quality end of the budget market with its strong consumer brands.

"Costa Coffee will no doubt continue to profit from negative sentiment towards its rival Starbucks following its very public difficulties over its UK tax affairs. Every part of its business is growing, showing the benefits of a business model firmly anchored by affordability," he continued.

"Whitbread's overall financial position is robust. We calculate health scores based on published accounts (comparing companies' actual results with seven key financial ratios on profitability, assets and funding to rate their financial strength). The outcome of these measures is a top notch rating of 93 out of a possible 100, providing the financial strength to continue to invest in its operations and press home its competitive advantages.”