Premier Inn owner Whitbread has posted higher third-quarter sales and backed its full-year guidance, but warned over the environment in the UK.

The company, which recently sold its Costa coffee chain to Coca-Cola for £3.9 billion to become a pure-play hotel business, also announced it will return up to £500m to shareholders.

The FTSE 100 firm said it remains cautious about the backdrop in the UK in the next year due to "uncertainty and higher inflation".

It said the "UK environment remains subdued and sustained inflation continues to be a significant challenge" and, as a result, Whitbread expects underlying pre-tax profit for fiscal year 2020 to be in line with fiscal year 2019.

Simply Be owner N Brown has reported a 1.6% fall in group revenues over the 18 weeks to January 5 as heavy declines in its traditional mail order business offset progress in online trade.

The group saw sales of its traditional so-called legacy catalogue brands plunge 22.9% in the quarter.
But sales of its "power brands" - including JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo - lifted 0.1%.

Online sales of its power brands rose 6.4%, N Brown added.

Cinema chain Everyman Media Group, which has a premises in Glasgow, has said it has lined up another 14 venues to open by 2022, with seven expected in 2019 as it gave a bullish outlook for the year ahead.

It said it opened five venues in 2018, taking its total to 26, and has signed lease agreements for four more south of the border at this stage.

The group said: "The directors maintain a positive outlook for the cinema industry and for the company in 2019. Audiences continue to enjoy film, and specifically the Everyman experience."

Defence firm Chemring has revealed a £17m hit to its annual underlying earnings after a factory explosion in August that killed one worker and injured another.

The group said the incident at its flare mixing factory in Salisbury also cost it £22m in lost sales. Chemring posted flat underlying earnings, at £31m for the year to October 31 against £32m the previous year. Statutory losses widened to £22m from £7m the previous year.

The group includes Chemring Energetics, based at Stevenston in Ayrshire, which manufactures and supplies a range of pyrotechnic and propellant devices, rocket motors and demolition stores.