Whitbread this morning reported 26.3% rise in full-year pre-tax profit to £210.3m. The group said that the start of the year had been “encouraging” and announced plans to increase the size of Premier Inn by 50% to 55,000 rooms and to double Costa Coffee to 2,000 stores, over the next five years. Total revenue was up 11.3% to £1.18bn with like-for-like sales up 5.7%. The group also has a new debt facility of £455m in place, with total facilities of £1.2bn. At the group’s Costa division total revenue was up 23.5% to £216.3m, with like-for-like sales up 6.5% and full year profits up 16.9% to £20.8m. The group said that, with the UK estate at 695 stores – 992 worldwide – there was scope to grow the brand “significantly”. To do this, Whitbread said it would focus on areas including central London, a number of major towns and cities around the country, retail trading parks and the roadside market. It also planned to build on concession relationships such as that with Tesco, where it already has 50 in-store coffee shops. Whitbread’s pub-restaurant business saw total revenue fall by 14% to £446.1m, with pre-exceptional operating profit of £55.5m, up 6.1% on last year. Like-for-like sale were up 0.8%, with profit per pub-restaurant up around 40%. The company said it would focus on Beefeater, its new brand Table Table and the core Brewers Fayre estate, with plans for further joint developments with Premier Inn. At Premier Inn, revenue for the year grew by 15.1% to £527.8m with operating profit up 14.0% year on year to £178.0m. Full year like-for-like sales increased by 10.4%. In London like-for-like occupancy in 2007/8 was up 4.2% pts to 84.0%, against 79.2% for the whole estate, which was in line with the previous year. During the year over 3,400 rooms were added to the estate, ahead of the group’s target for the year of 3,000 rooms. The group said that it expected to announce a further 2,000 rooms across the estate over the next 12 months. Alan Parker, chief executive Whitbread, said: “2007/8 was a year of excellent progress with good results across the company. “Whitbread is now a more resilient business with strong growth prospects in the UK and overseas. In anticipation of a more challenging environment, action has been taken to simplify processes and reduce costs.” The group also announced the appointment of Stephen Williams as a non-executive director. Williams is general counsel and chief legal officer of Unilever and Unilever NV where he has worked for 22 years. Anthony Habgood, chairman, Whitbread, said: “We are delighted to welcome Stephen to our board. Stephen has great experience of consumer goods and doing business worldwide. I am sure that he will make a valuable contribution to the company at what is an exciting time in its development.”