Whitbread, the operator of Costa Coffee, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn, has reported a 4.5% rise in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to 31 May, but said it expected comparative quarterly trading to continue to be variable and warned it faced tougher comparatives in the second quarter. Total sales were up 13.9% for the group during the quarter, driven by a strong performance across its Costa Coffee business. Costa reported an 8.4% increase in UK like-for-like sales, with total sales up 25.3% during the quarter. Total system sales climbed by 24.7% to £226.7m, with total franchise system sales up 22.5% to £58.8m. UK retail system sales grew by 21.5% to £123.9m. Costa Enterprises, which includes the 1,714-strong Costa Express operation, delivered systems sales of £50.6m, up 29.9%. The company opened 35 net new UK stores in the quarter, 29 in UK retail and six in Costa Enterprises. Internationally, system sales grew by 25.8% to £52.2m, with growth of 13.2% in EMEI and 131.1% in Costa Asia. Costa opened 35 net new stores including 22 in China where it now has 186 outlets. It plans to open 350 net new stores and 1,000 Costa Express units in the full year. Whitbread said that a “sharper focus” in its 389-strong restaurants business had helped maintain its improved performance. Like-for-like sales across the division, which includes the Beefeater and Taybarns brands, climbed 2.1% during the quarter, with total sales up 5%. Like-for-like sales across the group’s hotels and restaurants increased 3.4% during the 13 weeks, with total sales up 9.4%. Its restaurants reported total covers growth of 7.4%. Premier Inn grew total sales by 12.4% with total room nights sold increasing by 11% to 3.3 million during the quarter. Like-for-like RevPAR grew by 3% with occupancy up 1.3% percentage points to 76.2% and room rate up by 1.3%. Like-for-like RevPAR grew by 7.3% in London and 2.2% in the regions. Whitbread said that 1,109 rooms and one joint site restaurant were opened in the quarter and for the full year its plans to have opened around 4,200 rooms and eight joint site restaurants. Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “Our consistent investment in product quality and customer experience has helped our strong brands to outperform their competitors. “We expect comparative quarterly trading to continue to be variable. April benefited substantially from a weak comparative due to the extended Royal Wedding holiday in 2011. For the second quarter we face tougher comparatives against a strong result last year, together with the uncertain impact of this summer's major sporting events." In the year ended 1 March 2012, Whitbread reported a 11.2% increase in group revenue to £1.7bn and underlying pre-tax profit of £320.1m up 11.3%. The group plans to open 4,200 Premier Inn rooms, eight joint site restaurants and 350 new Costa stores this financial year, creating an additional 3,500 UK jobs.