Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison said the hotel market was showing a divergence in performance between a robust London and the regions
Whitbread, which has the most hotel rooms in Britain, said its size and flexible pricing had helped it win market share as sales growth at its Premier Inn business and the broader sector stalled over the Christmas and New Year period.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said the hotel market was showing a divergence in performance between a robust London and the regions. Whitbread said on Tuesday it would meet forecasts for 2011/12 profit despite the hotels slowdown. “Consumers are still under heavy financial pressure, with falling disposable incomes. We think the economy is pretty flat,” Harrison told reporters.
The company, which also owns Costa Coffee shops and the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chains, said total sales rose 10.1%, with like-for-like sales growth slowing to 1.8% from 2.4% in its third quarter.
Costa fared well, with a like-for-like sales rise of 6.2%, tempting customers seeking affordable treats and benefiting from rapid international expansion.
Business gongs include CBE for Gerald Ronson, one of the ‘Guinness four’, for charity work since serving jail term in 1990
Gerald Ronson, the veteran tycoon jailed for his part in one of Britain’s best-known stock market scandals as one of the “Guinness Four”, is among those recognised in the New Year honours list.
Ronson, who claims to have pioneered self-service petrol stations, served six months after his conviction in 1990 for involvement in a share-trading scandal. Once out of prison he embarked on a concerted campaign to clear his name, rebuilt his business empire, and devoted money and time to charity work, for which he is now awarded a CBE.
Other business people knighted included the Tory donor and hedge fund manager Paul Ruddock and GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty, who was knighted for services to the economy and to the UK pharmaceutical industry.
Ruddock’s honour was for services to the arts. A partner at the Lansdowne fund that bet on the collapse of Northern Rock, Ruddock is also chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
There was also a knighthood for Michael Bear, the 2010-11 lord mayor of London, “for services to regeneration, charity and the City of London”.
Ronson’s honour follows £30m in donations to organisations such as the NSPCC and the Prince’s Trust as well as work with Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The uncle of music producer Mark Ronson, the entrepreneur has become a well-known figure in the property industry and was behind the 46-storey Heron Tower, the tallest building in the City of London.
Despite his successes, however, 72-year-old Ronson will be forever associated with the Guinness affair of the 1980s. It saw four men accused of acting to inflate the price of Guinness shares in order to make possible a takeover bid for rival drinks company Distillers.
He won a European Court of Human Rights ruling that his trial had been unfair but failed to get the House of Lords to overturn his conviction.
Asked if Ronson’s conviction had any influence over the decision to award him a CBE, a Cabinet Office spokesman said: “If someone has served their time and gone on to do wonderful works I don’t think that prevents someone from receiving an honour.”
The former Tesco chairman David Reid, part of the management team which transformed the company from a domestic supermarket chain into a global retail brand, was also awarded a knighthood.
Media industry figures honoured include the chief executive of the Financial Times Group, Rona Fairhead, and former ITV boss Charles Allen, knighted for his work to create UK-wide benefits from the 2012 Olympics – a role he has only held since May.
The fashion industry honours include an OBE for Barbara Hulanicki, the founder of cult 1960s fashion clothing label Biba, who has more recently put her name to a range for Asda.
In the wake of Lord Davies’ report this year tackling male domination in the boardroom, there is recognition for fund manager Helena Morrissey, who set up the 30% Club to boost female representation at the top of big companies.
Finally, the man and wife team behind jewellery makers Links of London, John Ayton and Annoushka Ducas, are awarded MBEs.