Premier Inn owner Whitbread plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs at its hotels and restaurants as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the travel and hospitality industries and the British government winds down a job support scheme.
The company said on Tuesday September 22 that it has begun formal consultations on the cuts, which equate to 18% of its workforce, and it expects a large proportion of them to be voluntary.
"We expect demand to remain subdued in the short to medium-term and the UK Government's furlough scheme to come to an end in October," Whitbread said in a statement, explaining the cuts.
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Its shares were down 2.9% to 2,047 pence at 0709 GMT on September 22.
Whitbread, which also owns the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block chains, said last month that it would cut approximately 15%-20% of its head office roles.
Total sales for Whitbread's UK and international businesses plunged 76.8% in the six months that ended on August 27, as it closed hotels and restaurants during national lockdowns.
The company said that its UK accommodation sales have been ahead of the market since reopening and that it has seen strong demand in tourist spots, although demand has remained subdued in metropolitan areas and London.
It added that its UK restaurants were boosted by the government's "eat out to help out" subsidy scheme, and hotel occupancy rates recovered from March lows to an average of 51% in August, still far short of industry norms from before the crisis.
One-Off Costs From Layoffs
Whitbread expects one-off costs from the layoffs to be approximately £12 million to £15 million.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.