Costa Coffee, the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, this morning revealed it had seen a 20.5% rise in underlying profit to £43.5m, up from £36.1m.Costa parent company Whitbread, which also runs pubs, restaurants and hotels, revealed its interim results for the six months to 29 August 2013, noting that sales at Costa had also increased by 20.9%, worldwide system sales were up by 19.5% and like-for-like (LFL) saleswere up 5.5%.Overall for Whitbread, total revenue was up by 12.4% to £1.14bn, up from £1.01bn and group sales increased by 2.8%.Andy Harrison, Whitbread’s chief executive, said: “Costa, the UK’s favourite coffee shop, continued its excellent performance, opening 153 net new stores worldwide and growing total system sales by 19.5%. UK system sales grew by 19.6%, with strong consumer demand driving a 5.5% growth in UK LFL sales. We celebrated the opening in Bangkok of our 1,000th Costa international store. “This good first-half performance puts us on track to deliver this year’s business plan and we remain on the right trajectory for our 2016 and 2018 growth milestones. Our combination of strong organic growth, good returns on capital and strong cash flow should continue to create substantial shareholder value.”During the first half, Costa opened 86 net new stores in the UK taking the total number of stores to 1,664, over 800 more than its closest competitor.
─ UNDP host sub-regional workshop in GuyanaThe Public Health Ministry in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) is currently hosting a Post Market Surveillance and Pharmacovigilance Workshop in Guyana, to improve monitoring of medicines for safety and quality in Caricom states.The sub-regional workshop is intended to expose senior regulatory officials from Caricom countries to key approaches and tools that can advance understanding of post-market surveillance and pharmacovigilance; related to the prevention, detection, and response to substandard and falsified medicines according to a Department of Public Information report.The training exercise is also intended to assist participants to refine their national approaches to these areas. And also, to develop in-country priorities and strategies to address these problems.UNDP’s Advisor for Regulatory Systems Strengthening in Medicines, Charles Preston explained that the first aspect of training exercise deals with the regulation of medicines. This looks at the steps taken – what are procedures and how is the regulatory authority notified – when there is substandard or a falsified medicine in the market; what are procedures and how is the regulatory authority notified.The other aspect of the training deals with Pharmacovigilance, which is the science of drug safety – what happens if the medicine itself is unsafe and the patients have an adverse reaction.Preston noted that the overarching goal is to ensure Member States are knowledgeable of the necessary steps to be taken when reporting to the WHO’s Global Database so that the organisation can track when medicines are harmful and cause negative reactions to patients.Among countries participating in the three-day workshop are Guyana, Belize, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti.The monitoring of medicines for safety and quality is an important component of improving access to medicines and achieving universal health.