>Big expansion planned at Whitbread as profits soar by 77%

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>Whitbread is targeting a 32% expansion in its Premier Inn hotel brand to 55,000 rooms in the UK by 2015, and could increase its Costa brand to 3,000 stores worldwide over the same period.

The news came as the group announced that total revenue climbed by 7.5% to almost £1.44b in 2009, thanks to the expansion of its Premier Inn, Costa and restaurant brands.

The group also pointed to improving like-for-like sales in the final quarter of the year, following a tough start to the year, which meant that overall like-for-like sales were down just 0.5% in 2009.

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