Whitbread plans to expand Costa coffee chain in China

Coffee maker in Costa Coffee Image copyright Costa

Costa owner Whitbread plans to expand the coffee chain in China from 344 to 900 coffee shops by 2020.

Over the last year, 43 new Costa coffee shops opened in China's biggest cities.

"China, where we operate through two joint ventures, remains an exciting opportunity", said Whitbread in its full-year financial results statement.

Strong sales at Costa overall helped to bolster Whitbread's earnings, with annual pre-tax profit rising 18.5% to £488m.

Whitbread will also open 569 new coffee shops in the UK over the next five years, taking its total to 4,292.

There had been suggestions that it would sell the Costa chain, which was started by the Costa brothers in 1971.

However, Whitbread has insisted that it will hold on to the coffee chain. "We have absolutely no plans [to sell Costa]", said Mr Harrison told the Today Programme.

In addition to expanding its coffee business, Whitbread plans to increase its stock of Premier Inn rooms from around 60,000 to 85,000 over the next five years.

Whitbread's hotels and restaurants division delivered a 11.1% rise in revenue.

Whitbread has said that its chief executive, Andy Harrison, will leave the restaurant and hotel company. He will become chairman at home furnishing retailer Dunelm.

Mr Harrison will leave the company in July. He joined Whitbread's board in 2010 from easyJet.

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