Costa Coffee sales perk up Whitbread half-year profits

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Costa Coffee owner Whitbread has reported a rise in half-year profits as it brews up plans to tap the artisan coffee market. 

The group, which also owns Premier Inn, said pre-tax profit in the period rose 3.4% to £263.6 million while revenue grew 8.1% to £1.56 billion.

Like-for-like sales at Costa continued to bounce back, growing 2.3% in the period, while Premier Inn saw a comparable sales increase of 2.4%.

Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain said: "We are trialling new 'finer' coffee concepts, introducing a new fresher food range and making good progress rolling out our Costa Pronto and Drive Thru formats."

The  company opened its first "finer coffee" concept store in London's Covent Garden in June, which sells artisan coffee and an "enhanced beverage range". A second store opened in Wandsworth, south-west London, this month.

However, Whitbread added that it will closely monitor the risk of a "wider macro-economic effect as a result of the UK leaving the EU, including foreign exchange and interest rate fluctuations".

Ms Brittain said that despite "uncertainty in the UK's economic outlook, the group expects to deliver in line with full-year expectations".