Analysts had expected like-for-like sales growth of 5.5 per cent for the 13 weeks to 28 May, which has prompted a 1.6 per cent fall in the company’s share price in early trading.
Expansion is still high on the agenda, with Costa opening 37 stores in the quarter and plans to open a total of 250 new stores over the course of the year, Sky News report.
Whitbread’s other key brand, budge hotel chain Premier Inn, also grew with like-for-like sales rising 6.3 per cent over the same period.
London was especially lucrative for Premier Inn, with sales growth of 21.6 per cent. This boost was attributed to a 23.2 per cent increase in the number of rooms available.
It plans to open 5,500 new Premier Inn rooms in the UK this year, with construction underway on 42 new hotel sites.
Whitbread’s capital investment for the year is expected to be in the region of £700m.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Whitbread has begun the new financial year well, in line with expectations, with total sales growth for the first quarter of 12.5 per cent and good like for like sales growth of 4.3 per cent, driven by continued momentum in Premier Inn and Costa.”
Whitbread also announced that Alison Brittain, head of retail banking at Lloyds, will replace Mr Harrison in December, a month early than initially planned.
Over the last 12 months, shares in the company have risen nearly 19 per cent.