Whitbread's new boss will have big shoes to fill

The Costa Coffee owner's latest results cap off an impressive five years for Andy Harrison.

by Jack Torrance

When Andy Harrison joined Whitbread as chief executive back in 2010, the leisure conglomerate wasn’t exactly down in the dumps. But in his five years in charge the company, which owns Premier Inn and Costa Coffee, has become an absolute giant.

Its latest results, out today, reveal that sales were up 11.3% year-on-year to £1.4bn in the six months to August 27, while underlying pre-tax profits rose 13.8% to £291.3m. It’s a fitting way to cap off Harrison’s five years at the company, whose share price has grown by 221% since he took the helm (despite slipping a little since he announced his intention to bow out).

The company’s growth has partly been off the back of Costa, which it acquired in 1995. Once a poor man’s answer to Starbucks, the brand has been named ‘Britain’s Favourite Coffee Shop’ for five years in a row and now has around 3,000 stores, including 1,000 overseas. That expansion shows no sign of waning - Costa's sales are up by 16.2%. 

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