Premier Inn owner Whitbread has said that hotel bookings in its tourist locations picked up in the run-up to the summer season, lifting its shares even as the UK delayed plans to ease COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
"Significantly Ahead Of The Market"
The Dunstable-based company said that it traded "significantly ahead of the market", though total sales still fell 69.8% during the 13 week period that ended on May 27 from pre-COVID-19 levels.
"Our forward bookings continue to improve, benefiting from the anticipated post-lockdown bounce in leisure demand, and a continued gradual improvement in business bookings," CEO Alison Britain said.
Slower Rate Of Decline
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The rate of decline slowed during the period from May 17 to June 14, when overnight leisure stays were allowed, with total UK accommodation sales during those weeks being down just 27% from pre-pandemic levels.
Signs Of Recovery In The UK
The travel and leisure sector is showing signs of recovery as UK residents have started booking domestic trips for the summer holiday season rather than foreign trips
By May 17, the company said that 98% of its more than 800 Premier Inn hotels were open.
Hargraves Lansdown Analyst Statement
"A lack of air travel will push Britons to staycation at coastal towns in the UK, where roughly 15% of the group’s hotels are scattered," Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laura Hoy said.
But with the UK now pushing back its plans to lift most social restrictions to July 19, Whitbread said that a full recovery of leisure demand depended on the removal of remaining lockdown measures.
New Hotels And Signs Of Recovery In Germany
The company opened 10 new hotels in the UK during the quarter. There are signs of recovery in Germany, too, where 19 of Whitbread's 30 hotels had opened.