Premier Inn owner Whitbread has reported a 2.2% fall in UK like-for-like sales year to date, cautioning clarity on Brexit following a decisive British election last month had yet to deliver a bounce in business bookings.
Whitbread warned multiple times last year that it saw companies cutting back on business trips amid tortuous negotiations over Britain's plans to leave the European Union.
On Thursday January 16, the bluechip company said that weakening confidence among people making business or leisure trips in the UK continued.
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"Clearly people are feeling better post the election in general terms but that was very recent...we haven't yet seen that transfer into any data on business confidence or increased investment that may come," CEO Alison Brittain said on a media call.
"We have seen a small improvement but not a bounce [in business bookings]," Brittain said. "We are seeing a buoyant London market and a much more subdued regional market...there is still a very negative position in the regional market."
Current Fiscal Year Results Expectation
Whitbread, which operates more than 80,000 rooms in the UK and elsewhere under its flagship brand, said that it expects in-line results for the current fiscal year to February 29.
It also owns brands including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block, but has been more focussed on hotels since selling its Costa Coffee business for £3.9 billion last year.
It expects to open 20 hotels this year in Germany, where it forecast losses of £12 million this year and £10 million in fiscal 2021.