Premier Inn owner Whitbread aims to create 15,000 new jobs across the UK over the next five years.


The target was outlined as the company said it was on track to meet its 2018 and 2020 growth milestones to reach 75,000 and 85,000 rooms respectively, up from almost 60,000 rooms now.


The group saw half year pre-tax profit grow by 5.4% to £254.9 million with sales growth of 3.6%. This came after exceptional charges of £25.2 million, primarily for “onerous leases on historically disposed businesses and accelerated amortisation on IT systems,” the company said.


Premier Inn saw total sales grow by 12.6% to £642.1 million in the six months to August 27 as room capacity rose by 8%. Revenue per available room was up by 4.6% and occupancy at 83.7%.


Underlying operating profit from the group’s hotels and restaurants division was up by 10.8% to almost £250 million, while coffee chain Costa contributed £67.3 million.


Outgoing chief executive, Andy Harrison, who is to leave the company in December after five years at the helm, revealed plans to spend £130 million this financial year on refurbishing 13,200 rooms at the budget chain while completing the installation of 30,000 new beds.


“Premierinn.com remains our customers’ preferred booking channel and now represents 84% of bookings, up from 63% in 2010/11,” he said.


“This success has been driven by our continued focus on digital, pricing and TV marketing and is testimony to the strength of our brand and network in the UK.


“Dynamic pricing is an important part of our winning model helping to drive high occupancy and fill new hotel capacity, whilst maintaining great value for money.”


Harrison added: “Trading momentum in the early weeks of the second half has been consistent with that seen across the first half.


“We remain on track to deliver full-year results in line with expectations.


“This year we plan to invest around £700 million in driving our organic growth and further improving the quality and consistency of our customer experience.


“We expect to open around 5,500 net new UK rooms and around 220 net new Costa stores worldwide.


“We continue to focus on driving long term organic growth, financed from our own resources and delivering a good return on capital to create substantial value for our shareholders.”


His successor Alison Brittain has joined as chief executive designate from Lloyds Banking Group, and will take over on December 7.