Tuesday 18 December 2018

Costa sales slump as it readies for de-merger

Costa Coffee has more than 2,400 outlets. Photo: PA
Costa Coffee has more than 2,400 outlets. Photo: PA

Ravender Sembhy

Costa Coffee owner Whitbread has said sales at the coffee chain were dented in the first quarter by Britain's high street woes - adding that it is making "good progress" in preparing for the chain to be de-merged.

Comparable sales at Costa fell by 2pc in the UK during that period, dragging down group like-for-like figures at Whitbread, which came in 1.3pc lower. Total sales at Whitbread, including international sales, rose 3.2pc, and 4.9pc at Costa. Revenue at Whitbread's hotels chain, Premier Inn, was up 2.2pc over the quarter.

"Both the budget hotel market and the coffee market present long-term structural growth opportunities," said Alison Brittain, CEO of Whitbread. "Whilst we are cautious of shorter-term trading conditions in the UK, due to well-publicised consumer trends, we are confident that we have the right strategies in place to enhance our UK and international market positions and ensure each business is well-positioned to thrive as a separate entity,"

The coffee shop to hotels firm said earlier this year that it will split the Costa chain and list it as a separate entity, following pressure from activist investor Elliott Advisors. "Constructive early steps have been taken in preparation for the de-merger and good progress continues to be made on the core infrastructure and efficiency work that was already under way," Whitbread added.

But it has since emerged that Costa is being circled by a clutch of private equity firms, opening the door to a potential £3bn (€3.4bn) sale of the high street chain.

Costa, which Whitbread acquired in 1995 from founders Sergio and Bruno Costa, has more than 2,400 outlets and is embarking on overseas expansion. (PA)

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