Premier Inn owner Whitbread swings to a £1bn loss amid Covid closings

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Whitbread has revealed losses of nearly £1bn for fiscal 2020 following what it described as the most challenging year in its history - with about 85pc of the business having experienced a significant annual fall in profits.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread has reported a £1bn pre-tax loss as revenue slumped by nearly 75 per cent following the Covid slump, but the hotel company said that summer bookings had risen.

Director Alison Brittain said: "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 17 May.

To encourage customers to shop again, Whitbread, headlined by comedian Sir Lenny Henry, has launched a major marketing push, Rest Easy, and has begun the implementation of 2.000 Premier Plus rooms this year, with quicker Wi-Fi and more perks that were dropped last year.

Employment rate was only 23% in January and 29% in February, and the firm said the record loss was partly caused by a £348 million impairment charge on its asset in Germany.

The company predicted larger losses up until 2023 in Germany, where 18 of the 30 hotels are currently open for corporate travel; yet another 42 are being prepared.