Premier Inn owner Whitbread WTB.L resumed dividend payments to shareholders on Thursday 28 April, and said that its future bookings in leisure and business segments at its British hotels have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
The London-listed company, which started out as a brewery in the eighteenth century, said that its UK accommodation sales for the year ended 3 March had nearly trebled from a year earlier when pandemic restrictions were still in place.
"As restrictions eased after the first quarter, high levels of leisure demand and improving business demand helped drive UK accommodation sales ahead of pre-COVID levels throughout the summer and into autumn," Whitbread chief executive officer Alison Brittain said in a statement.
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By contrast, Whitbread said its German business has been recovering at a slower pace as coronavirus curbs in the country have lasted longer.
Whitbread said that it expects industrywide cost inflation to reach 8%-9% in 2023, higher than initially thought, as British households and businesses bear the brunt of inflation reaching its highest in three decades.
The company, which owns steakhouses Beefeater and Bar+Block, reported annual statutory profit before tax of £58.2 million, versus a loss of £1.01 billion a year earlier.
Whitbread said that its dividend of 34.7 pence per share will be payable on 1 July.
Shares Climb Higher
Shares of the Dunstable, UK-based company climbed nearly 4% in early trading on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday 28 April.
UPDATE 2-Premier Inn Owner Whitbread Resumes Dividend As UK Recovery Builds
The above news was followed by the following update:
Premier Inn owner Whitbread WTB.L resumed dividends on Thursday 28 April and said that profit at its UK business could return to pre-pandemic levels this year despite inflationary pressures.
Shares in the company were up 3.4% at 1140 GMT on Thursday 28 April as Britain's largest hotel chain also reported annual revenue that beat market expectations after UK accommodation sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels during the summer and autumn seasons last year.
"As we move through the year in the UK, we expect international inbound demand to increase, alongside recovering office-based corporate demand, complementing the already high levels of leisure and business trade demand," Whitbread said in a statement.
The London-listed company, which started out as a brewery in the eighteenth century, said UK accommodation sales for the year ended March 3 had nearly trebled from the previous year when pandemic restrictions were still in place.
Whitbread, which also owns steakhouses Beefeater and Bar+Block, said annual statutory profit before tax was £58.2 million, versus a loss of £1.01 billion a year earlier.
It proposed a final dividend of 34.7 pence per share, its first since suspending payments in 2020.
"With (the dividend) back on the table, it sends a clear message to markets that sentiment is vastly improved and the return to profitability...adds weight," Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Matt Britzman said.
"The recovery is by no means complete and there's still a way to go before the group's out of the woods," he added.
Whitbread said that its German business had been recovering at a slower pace as coronavirus curbs in the country lasted longer, but it was confident business there would return to strong levels this year.
It also warned industry-wide cost inflation would reach 8%-9% this financial year, higher than initially thought, as British households and businesses bear the brunt of inflation reaching its highest in three decades.