Premier Inn's sales tumble

WHITBREAD, Britain&rsquo;s biggest hotel operator, yesterday blamed the worst hotel recession in three decades for a sharp fall in first quarter revenues at budget hotel chain Premier Inn.<br /><br />The group said Premier Inn&rsquo;s like-for-like sales fell by 7.9 per cent, after revenue per available room (Revpar) slumped by 9.6 per cent. <br /><br />Chief executive Alan Parker said: &ldquo;We are currently facing the worst hotel recession for thirty years and Premier Inn is not immune to it.&rdquo;<br /><br />In previous months, Premier Inn has benefited from corporate clients trading down as companies slash spending.<br /><br />Parker said the firm would now going to &ldquo;use its muscle&rdquo; as the biggest hotel chain to coax holiday travellers into its empty rooms during the summer, with a discounted rate of &pound;29 per room per night.<br /><br />Group sales were cushioned by a stellar performance at its Costa Coffee division, which saw total sales rise by 18.5 per cent in the period, with like-for-like sales rising 2.6 per cent.<br /><br />Costa Coffee attributed the jump in sales to successful marketing. It has also benefited from cash-strapped consumers trading down from premium chains like Starbucks. <br /><br />Meanwhile, like-for-like sales at the group&rsquo;s pub restaurants, which include the Beefeater and Brewers&rsquo; Fayre chains, rose by two percent during the quarter, after special offers proved popular. <br /><br />Parker said he remained &ldquo;optimistic overall&rdquo;. <br /><br />He added: &ldquo;We&rsquo;re in a good place to be, and we will be faring better in due course. But in the short term, the recession is biting, and we are suffering.&rdquo;