Britain's biggest hotel and coffee shop operator Whitbread said today its chief executive Andy Harrison would retire by next February as it beat forecasts for full-year profit and stepped up its expansion plans. 

The owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn hotels has seen its market cap grow from £2.5 billion to almost £10 billion since Harrison joined in 2010 from EasyJet. 

He will become Chairman of British homewares retailer Dunelm in July this year. 

Whitbread has grown strongly on the back of demand from cost-conscious customers for affordable hotels and a rising trend for takeaway coffee, with an improving British economy now providing added momentum. 

Whitbread said its underlying pretax profit for the year to February 26 was £488.1m, up 18.5% on a year ago and ahead of an average forecast of £478.7m. Total revenues rose 13.7% to £2.6 billion. 

To capitalise further on demand Whitbread also increased its expansion targets. 

The company said it would reach 85,000 Premier Inn UK rooms by 2020, up from its previous target of 75,000 by 2018. 

It will also target Costa sales of £2.5 billion by 2020, up from a previous 2018 target of €2 billion, with expansion in Britain and overseas. 

Total sales at Costa in the year to February 26 were £1.4 billion, with UK underlying sales up 6%. Like for like sales at Premier Inn grew 9.1% for the year. 

Whitbread said it had started the search for a new CEO.