Costa Coffee sales slow as parent signals new era of coffee drinking
Costa Coffee owner Whitbread has revealed a further slowdown in sales growth at its coffee shops, but hopes that the so called "third wave" of coffee consumption will help it bounce back.
The group said like-for-like Costa sales grew by 0.6pc in the six months to August 31, down from 2.3pc growth in the same period last year.
Whitbread said that an improved breakfast food range and a broader selection of cold drinks helped keep it in positive comparable sales territory, adding that it believes the UK is entering the "third wave" of coffee.
The company described this as a period in which "consumers' preferences for coffee become more sophisticated and are willing to spend more per cup for higher quality and innovative drinks", with Costa poised to capitalise on the new epoch.
Pre-tax profit at Costa fell 9.8pc in the period to £59m, on revenue of £622m.
But Whitbread as a whole saw revenue rise 7.4pc to £1.67bn, while total statutory pre-tax profit rose 19.9pc to £316m.
The company saw a stronger performance in its Premier Inn hotel chain, where comparable sales rose 3.6pc.
The hotel arm booked a 26.5pc rise in pre-tax profits to £295m as revenue topped £1bn.
Chief executive Alison Brittain said: "Our plan is based on growing in our core UK markets; focusing on structural growth opportunities for Premier Inn in Germany, Costa in China and Costa Express; and strengthening our capabilities and efficiency to deliver these attractive opportunities."
Earlier this year Whitbread paid £35m to seize full control of its Costa Coffee joint venture in China, part of the firm's plan to grow internationally.
On Tuesday it again singled out China in particular as coffee culture becomes more popular in the country.
"The coffee shop market in China is expected to more than double in size by 2020 and an opportunity exists to position Costa as the strongest challenger to the market leader," Whitbread said.