Whitbread this morning reported an 11% rise in first-half pre-tax profit at its continuing operations, as success at Premier Travel Inn compensated for weaker results at its pub restaurants and David Lloyd Leisure businesses. Pre-tax profit was £102.9m in the six months to 1 September, on sales up 13% to £809m. Like-for-like sales at the group were up by 0.4%. "Costa continues to perform well and is growing strongly with 100 sites to open this year. However, Pizza Hut and TGI Friday's have had a difficult six months and they have both suffered from disappointing sales," Whitbread said. The group also announced that 250 job cuts would be made from the group’s brand and head office teams, saving an estimated £25m. In addition to the £400m announced in May, the company announced plans to return a further £400m to shareholders. The company is currently subject to rumours of a private-equity driven break-up of the business. Panmure Gordon this morning said that there were only two reasons for the Hold rating on the stock – a break-up and return of capital from Britvic. Panmure also lowered its target price from 950p to 900p on the grounds that it was dependent on "restructuring, the continuing out-performance of Premier Travel Inn and the stabilisation of trading in its under-performing divisions". Alan Parker, the company’s chief executive, said: "Although we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging we are encouraged by the high occupancy rates throughout our hotels, stabilisation of membership in David Lloyd Leisure and the continued rate of growth in Costa. "Although good progress is being made in pub restaurants reversing the trends of the business will take time." At the pub restaurants business, Ebit was down 11.5% to £39.3m, on like-for-like sales down 1.2% and sales up 3.3% to £315.6m. operating margins were hit by the rising costs of utilities, rates and labour. The company said that it was attempting to address the decline with pricing initiatives and new menus, including price-led offers in off-peak periods, such as two courses for £8.95 in Beefeater, and product-led enhancements during peak periods. The group said that customer reaction to the trials had been "encouraging". The group added five new sites to its estate during the period, with a further13 expected to be built by the end of the year. An increasing proportion of this growth is delivered in tandem with Premier Travel Inn. At the high street restaurants Ebit was down 13.1% to £7.3m, with like-for-like sales down 1.8% on sales up 6.3% to £112.1m. The group said that Costa, TGI Friday’s and Pizza Hut had all suffered in the wake of the July terrorist attacks on London. Costa is to launch an enhanced food range to help build sales in the second half. In the first half 26 company-owned Costa stores and seven franchise stores in the UK were opened and a further 17 franchise stores overseas. The brand’s sites in India and Pakistan opened at the start of the second half. TGI Friday's opened two new stores in the first half in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Fulham Broadway, London. Pizza Hut opened 17 new stores and has plans to open a further 46 in the second half. At Premier Travel Inn Ebit was up 48.7% to £71.8m, with like-for-like sales up 7.7% and sales up 48.1% to £206.9m. At David Lloyd Leisure Ebit was down 13.5% to £21.1m, with like-for-like sales flat and sales up 2.8% at £112.0m. Whitbread is in the process of selling off around £1.3bn of assets, including its Marriott hotels, its Chiswell Street brewery site and its stake in the Britvic soft drinks group.