Thursday 14 January 2021 10:26 am

Premier Inn owner Whitbread confirms 1,500 job cuts amid restructuring

Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB) has confirmed 1,500 job cuts following a restructuring of its hotel and restaurant operations as sales tumble amid lockdown restrictions. 

While the restructure had led to 1,500 job cuts, it is far lower than the 6,000 it had projected in September. 

Read more: Whitbread – at the end of the day, someone has to pay

The group, which also owns Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, said it had continued to take action to ensure its “cost base is reflective of the current demand environment”. 

Investors backed the move, with shares up just over four per cent this morning.

Whitbread said it had also achieved targeted cost savings as more employees accepted a cut in maximum contracted hours. 

It comes as Whitbread announced total UK accommodation sales plunged 55.2 per cent in the third quarter with occupancy dropping to 49.3 per cent. 

Occupancy had picked up ahead of the November lockdown with occupancy exceeding 50 per cent in both September and October, outperforming the rest of the market. 

Whitbread said the majority of its UK hotels remained open during the first half of December, helped by business travel, but demand dropped further on the introduction of new restrictions. 

In the five weeks to 31 December, UK sales dropped 66.4 per cent, with occupancy sliding to a low of 31.1 per cent. Total group sales were down 73.3 per cent over the period. 

“With the vaccination programme underway, we look forward to the potential gradual relaxation of restrictions from the Spring, business and leisure confidence returning, and our market recovering over the rest of the year,” chief executive Alison Brittain said. 

Read more: Premier Inn owner Whitbread asks landlords for 50 per cent rent cut

Total group sales were down 54.7 per cent which Whitbread said reflected lockdown restrictions on the operations of both hotels and restaurants. 

Shore Capital analysts said: “We see its operating model, business mix and balance sheet strength as a major differential and leaves it well placed to continue growing its UK position and replicating its success here in Germany.”