Premier Inn owner Whitbread has recorded a £1 billion annual loss, but said that it expects a significant bounce in staycation demand this summer as COVID-19 curbs in Britain are relaxed.
Whitbread, which also owns the Beefeater and Bar + Block chains, said that its revenue for the year to March slumped by nearly three quarters, sending its shares down by as much as 3.4% to 3,294 pence.
Britain's hospitality industry has suffered during the pandemic, with travel and entertainment spending severely restricted by measures to stop the spread of the virus.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
Britain's COVID-19 vaccination programme, under which more than half of Britons so far have been given at least one shot, will support the return of leisure guests, Whitbread CEO Alison Brittain said.
"We will definitely be hiring in the summer for seasonal work for coastal destinations that are going to be full," she told journalists. Coastal and other tourist locations make up approximately 15% of Whitbread's hotels.
"We have got very strong bookings into...anything with a view, frankly," Brittain said,
Brittain also said that the company expects to add approximately 4,000 to 5,000 new rooms in the UK and Germany over the next year.
Hargreaves Lansdown Representative Statement
"Whitbread needs its hotels to reach 55% occupancy to break even, and although management is expecting staycations to ramp up demand in the UK, it may not be enough to push the group over the line," Hargreaves Lansdown's Laura Hoy said in a note.
Percentage Of Hotels Open
Whitbread, which has the bulk of its business in Britain, said that over 92% of its hotels in the UK are now open. Occupancy levels in February were at 29% across all sites.
Loss And Sales Figures
Its 2020 adjusted pre-tax loss of £635.1 million was its first such annual loss since at least 2002, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Analysts on average were expecting a loss of £688 million.
Statutory loss stood at £1.01 billion, while sales of £589.4 million missed expectations.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.