Results out today from the Whitbread group and Associated British Foods demonstrate that things are improving slowly on the high street. The leisure group provider that owns pub, hotel and restaurant chains and the food manufacturer and Primark owner both reported better than expected results.

Sales of coffee have given CIO 100 ranked Whitbread a boost, total group sales for Whitbread increased by 2.4 per cent, with its Costa Coffee cafe chain delivering an "outstanding performance" it said. Sales at Costa Coffee rose by 18.4 per cent and it added 88 further outlets to its inventory as the business invested. Sales at the Premier Inn hotel chain fell by 7.7 per cent, but the restaurant brands Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns grew by 2.1 per cent.

Associated British Foods is benefiting from people doing more cooking, although the Whitbread figures suggest eating out is still in vogue. Associated said its Silver Spoon brand of sugars and home baking ingredients had seen strong demand and it was also reported good sales of its Twinings teas and Ovaltine brands.

Primark, the clothing stores that Associated owns, has again reported strong sales, up by nine per cent and Associated will be upgrading its annual profit forecast as a result.

In July Primark said it would be using Assyst IT service management to improve its shared processes. Whitbread has been investing in its online services, including online check-in as well as automated check-in kiosks at its hotels. In today's results it singled out tight control of staff costs as one of the reasons for the good results.