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Whitbread cuts 1,500 jobs as sales plummet by 55%

Lockdown in November 2020 saw the group’s hotel occupancy fall to 35%

Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread has confirmed it axed roughly 1,500 staff members as its Q3 accommodation sales plummeted 55% amid continued Covid-19 restrictions.

While the number is considerably less than the previously forecasted 6,000 job cuts, the group also confirmed that cost savings had been achieved through a greater proportion of employees accepting a reduction in their maximum contracted hours.

A lack of hotel occupancy, down to just 35% during the November lockdown, contributed to a 70.1% drop in the firm’s total sales for the year to date when compared to 2019 figures.

Despite the sharp decrease in revenue streams that the firm expects to continue “until at the very least the end of our financial year”, it remains positive that the vaccination programme will bring a “gradual relaxation of restrictions in Spring”.

The group’s decision to remain open throughout the lockdown measures has, however, bore fruit in terms of its position in the market.

As a result of its “quick response” to the crisis, which facilitated a continuation of trading, Premier Inn’s market share by revenue grew from 4.1% to 11.4%, while the group as a whole drove an 8.9% outperformance of the midscale and economy market.

Alison Brittain, CEO at Whitbread, said: “This response has enabled us to continue to deliver strong market share gains in the UK, demonstrating the benefits of our strong brand, direct distribution, and our unique operating model.

“We are well placed to continue to outperform the increasingly constrained budget branded and independent competitor sets, by leveraging the benefits of our unique operating model.”

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