THE HOSPITALITY sector looks set to generate thousands more jobs as Pret A Manger and Whitbread both publish ambitious expansion plans.
Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn and Costa, announced an increase in like for like sales of 3.7% and a 11.4% rise in profits to £356.5m. Alongside the results it published new 2018 “growth milestones”, including plans to grow Premier Inn rooms by 75% to 75,000 and a doubling of Costa sales to £2 billion. This will create 12,000 jobs over the next five years. In 2012/13, 3,000 new UK jobs were created.
Whitbread chairman Anthony Habgood said the sales growth has “funded both significant organic investment to grow our businesses and a double-digit percentage increase in our dividends while maintaining prudent debt levels. With the Premier Inn and Costa brand propositions going from strength to strength this growth is set to continue.”
Whitbread’s results come just a week after Pret published its financial results, showing that 2012 sales were up 17% to £443m; profits were also up 17% to £61.1m. Last year, the company opened 36 new shops and this year it hopes to create 1,000 new jobs, half of them in the UK.
Pret has also launched its fledgling National School Leaver Programme to encourage British school leavers to work for the chain – this follows criticisms that it wasn’t employing enough British workers. The first nine school leavers have started and the scheme will be expanded in September this year.
In 2012, Pret distributed approximately 2.5 million products to the homeless. It also gave the opportunity of employment to a growing number of homeless people; the sandwich chain now employs 84 homeless apprentices.
Pret chief executive Clive Schlee told the BBC that “customers are appreciating the natural food, the tastiness and the freshness of the sandwiches, and I think that’s just pipping their economic anxieties”.
Sustainability has played a big part in the company’s success: the avoidance of additives and preservatives; the use of fewer than one hundred ingredients in its kitchens; and a continued desire to “climb the welfare ladder” regarding its sourcing policies. The pole and line caught tuna baguette actually overtook the classic super-club as Pret’s best-selling sandwich in the UK in 2012. The fastest-growing category during the year was fresh fruit.
“2012 was a strong year for Pret. We continued to invest in our core values, improving our menu, launching innovative employment schemes and building and refurbishing shops in all our markets,” Schlee added.
The British Hospitality Association believes that 300,000 new jobs could be created in hospitality by 2020.