Premier Inn-owner reports £1bn in losses for 2020 | News

Whitbread has reported losses of £1 billion for financial 2020 in the wake of what the company described as the most challenging year in its more than two century long history.

Revenues fell 72 per cent last year, to £589 million, as the Covid-19 pandemic decimated the UK hospitality sector.

Alison Brittain, Whitbread chief executive, commented: “The last financial year was one of the most challenging in our 279-year history, as we operated under significant Covid-19 restrictions which had many implications for our businesses, our customers and our people.

“Our ability to navigate through this period, with the advantages of our unique operating model, the strength of the Premier Inn brand, and our market-leading direct distribution model, has enabled us to continue to deliver strong market share gains in the UK.

“Our exposure to the faster recovering budget sector, our resilient customer mix, and the enhanced structural opportunities that the Covid-19 crisis has created, positions us well to continue this outperformance.”

Whitbread said 92 per cent of its 800 or so Premier Inn hotels were not open, with a significant boost in demand expected with the reopening of the tourism sector on May 17th.

“The vaccination programme in the UK means we can look forward to the planned relaxation of government restrictions as we move into summer, with the first major milestone being the return of leisure guests to our hotels, and the full reopening of restaurants from May 17th,” said Brittain.

“We expect a significant bounce in leisure demand in our tourist locations during the summer, followed by a gradual recovery in business and event-driven leisure demand.”

In Germany, Whitbread said it remains confident of the opportunity to replicate its model in the UK.

The company currently has 30 operational hotels in the country, and a total open and committed pipeline of 72 hotels.