Whitbread, the leisure group, has reported a 4.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to 16 August, driven by a 5.7% rise in sales across its Costa Coffee estate and a 4.9% increase in sales through its 389-strong pub restaurant division. However, it warned that the economic challenges and variable trading month by month continued. Total sales across the group for the 11 weeks climbed 14.8%, with total sales across Costa up 25.3%, hotels and restaurants up 10.7%, pub restaurants up 6.9% and across premier Inn up 13%. For the 24 weeks to 16 August, the group reported a 3.4% rise in like-for-like sales across its pub restaurants, a 3.6% rise in sales in its hotels and restaurants division and a 7.1% rise at Costa. Costa grew total system sales by 22.9% to £432m with total franchise system sales up 18.9% to £175.6m during the second quarter. UK Retail system sales grew by 19.9% to £234.3m, with Q2 benefiting from relatively poor weather. Costa Enterprises (including Costa Express) delivered system sales of £101.8m, up 33.0%. There are now 1,974 Costa Express units, with 50 net new UK stores opened in the quarter, 39 in UK Retail and 11 in Costa Enterprises. Internationally, system sales grew by 20.7% to £95..8m, with growth of 10% in EMEI and 93.8% in Costa Asia. The company opened 12 net new stores in the quarter taking the total number of international stores to 858. This included its first store in Singapore, with a further 12 stores opening in China taking the total number of stores in Asia to 199. Whitbread said it plans to open 350 net new Costa stores and 1,000 Costa Express units in the full year. The group said that its restaurants delivered total covers growth of 8.6% in the year to date. It said that the switch of half-term from Q1 last year to Q2 this year benefited like-for-like sales in Q2 this year by 1.4% percentage points. Premier Inn increased total room nights sold by 10.2% to 6.4 million. Like-for-like revpar grew by 2.3% with occupancy up 0.4% percentage points to 79.4% and rate up by 1.8%. The company said that like-for-like revpar grew by 5.3% in London and 1.8% in the regions. It estimated that the revpar benefit from the Olympic period was just over 1% percentage point on total revpar in the second quarter. 1,565 net rooms were opened year to date and for the full year it plans to open around 4,500 rooms and eight joint site restaurants. Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “Our brands have outperformed in a tough economic climate, with like for like sales growth of 4.2% and we have continued our network expansion at Costa and Premier Inn. “Restaurants continued to improve, benefiting from a wide range of management actions, driving an increase in like for like sales of 4.9%. Costa, the UK's favourite coffee shop, had yet another strong quarter with like for like sales up 5.7% and total sales up 25.3%, as we continue to grow at pace in both the UK and selected overseas markets. “The economic challenges and variable trading month by month continue. We remain on track to deliver our ambitious growth programme, with our strong brands winning market share.”