Costa and Premier Inn brands in good health as CEO Harrison announces exit

The chief executive of Whitbread, Andrew Harrison is to leave the company after five years and he does so with its flagship brands, Costa and Premier Inn, in robust health.

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Harrison is to take up the chairmanship of home furnishing retailer Dunelm early in 2016. He joined from easyjet in 2010 and has overseen a period of rapid expansion of its store and hotel estate as well marked growth in its share price.

On his legacy, Whitbread chairman Richard Baker says: “Whitbread has gone from strength to strength under Andy’s leadership, delivering consistent rapid and profitable growth built around our strong brands and the company’s unique culture”

It is a claim borne out by the company’s annual results, which showed sales from Premier Inn hotels open for a year or more up by 9.1% in the year to 26 February, while same Costa store sales were up 6%. Revenue from across the business increased 13.7% to £2.6bn.

Perception of the brands is also strong. According to Yougov’s BrandIndex, Costa’s index score – a balance of how consumers rate it on quality, value, satisfaction and reputation as well as their general impression and willingness to recommend – is 10.3, putting it behind just Wetherspoon’s in the “fast food and pubs” category and well ahead of coffee shop rivals Caffe Nero and Starbucks in 11th and 32nd spot respectively.

Premier Inn is an even stronger performer, sitting in first spot in a list of 55 hotel, travel and travel agent brands with a score of 30.2, almost twice the score of second placed Trip Advisor and well ahead of second ranked hotel brand Marriott.

Harrison says its brand health is down to its staff and investment in brands. “Critical to our success are our 45,000 team members who do a great job in delivering a consistently good experience to the 25 million customers who visit Whitbread‟s outlets every month.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank all the members of Whitbread‟s winning teams for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Sustained investment to strengthen our brands, improve our business, and generate future growth is another important aspect to our success.”

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