Britain's Whitbread said buoyant demand at its Premier Inn hotels and stronger growth at its Costa Coffee arm helped send second-quarter underlying group sales up 6.8%. 

Total sales including new sites for the 11 weeks to August 14 rose 12.8%, Britain's biggest hotel and coffee chain operator said today. 

Business at its Premier Inn arm benefited from an improving economy and extra trade from the Farnborough Airshow and Scotland's Commonwealth Games, it added. 

"The hotel market is buoyant and is benefiting from an economic recovery," Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison told Reuters, highlighting regions in particular. 

"We've had a really good summer. All parts of the company have performed well," he added. 

Underlying sales at Premier Inn, which has about 85% of its rooms outside of London, rose 9.2% in the period, with group revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key industry measure, up 8.6% and total occupancy at an all-time high.

Whitbread has grown rapidly in recent years due to demand from cost-conscious customers for affordable hotels and an increasing trend for takeaway coffee which has driven growth at its Costa chain. 

The firm said it remained on track for another good year and to open around 4,500 new Premier Inn rooms and 300 net new Costa stores as part of ambitious growth plans at home and abroad. 

Underlying UK sales at Costa Coffee rose 7.3%, the company said, improving on growth of 4.5% in the first quarter. 

Its restaurant division, which includes Brewers Fayre and Beefeater brands, outperformed the wider market with sales growth of 1.7%. Overseas Costa sales for the 24 weeks grew 9.3%.