Premier Inn owner Whitbread has revealed a knock to demand over the festive season from the spread of the Omicron variant and cautioned over rising costs.
The group saw total UK sales drop 4.4 per cent year-on-year in the six weeks to January 6, dragged lower by a 17.2 per cent slump in food and drink revenues due to fears over the variant and restrictions on eating-out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Whitbread said it was too early to tell the impact of the Omicron hit to trade over the full year, with January and February already traditionally the quietest months for the group.
It said it still hopes Premier Inn hotel trading will recover to pre-Covid levels this year, despite the current woes.
It revealed it had delayed about £20m of investment and marketing project spend this year due to supply chain and trading challenges, while it warned the group’s cost inflation is set to hit up to 8 per cent on average.