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Business News

Premier Inn owner sees hotel recovery but ‘challenging’ time for pubs and restaurants


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The parent firm of Premier Inn hotels and pubs and restaurants, including the Beefeater brand, has reported a hit to bookings in recent weeks as the Omicron COVID variant disrupted the run-up to Christmas.

Whitbread said while group sales rose by 3.1% in the third quarter to 25 November, consumer jitters and restrictions over the variant led to a “softening” in demand.

But it said that while its core UK operations had proved mostly resilient ahead of the festive season, with like-for-like hotel revenues up 5% on the same period last year, Whitbread admitted that restrictions in Germany had taken a greater toll.

It has 32 Premier Inn sites in the country.

Whitbread is looking to grow its Premier Inn brand in Germany
Image: Whitbread is looking to grow its Premier Inn brand in Germany

The UK’s hospitality industry – among the worst-hit sectors during the early stages of the pandemic – began seeing a pick-up in trade last year as vaccination campaigns accelerated and restrictions were eased.

Whitbread reiterated that it expected sales at its UK hotels to fully recover this year.

However, it said on Wednesday: “Market-wide supply chain challenges, and potentially softer trading in January and February, mean we have delayed around £20m of our previously guided… marketing and refurbishment investment plans this year, and our capital expenditure will now be around £275m.”

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Shares were trading fractionally higher in early deals.

Chief executive Alison Brittain told a call with analysts that Whitbread, which also has the Brewers Fayre and Bar+Block brands in its stable, had witnessed an improvement in supply chain disruption in recent weeks.

In earlier remarks to investors, she said: “Q3 (third quarter) represented another strong performance in the UK with Premier Inn continuing to trade significantly ahead of the market.

“High levels of leisure demand and improving business demand helped maintain like-for-like accommodation sales ahead of pre COVID-19 levels.

“UK accommodation sales remained resilient in December, albeit softening as we moved through the month and into the festive period as a result of the onset of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“Whilst our hotel performance was excellent, the value pub and restaurant sector in which we operate remains more challenging.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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