Premier-Inn owner Whitbread reported on Tuesday an annual loss of about £1billion after COVID-19 curbs crimped all major travel in Britain for most of 2020, and said it sees a “significant” bounce in staycation demand during the summer.
“The vaccination programme in the UK means we can look forward to the planned relaxation of government restrictions as we move into the summer, with … the return of leisure guests to our hotels” Chief Executive Officer Alison Brittain said.
Its pretax loss for the year stood at £1.01 billion , compared with a profit of £280 million , the company, which also owns the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block chains, said.
Sales fell 71.5% to £589.4 million the company said, adding that occupancy levels declined to 23% in January and 29% in February.
“The last financial year was one of the most challenging in our 279 year history, as we operated under significant COVID restrictions which had many implications for our businesses, our customers and our people. Our business model enabled us to respond rapidly to the changing restrictions and to quickly adapt our operations as required, prioritising the health and safety of our colleagues and our customers.”
This response was possible due to the efforts of our colleagues in our hotels, restaurants and support centre, who continue to work tirelessly to maintain our very high operating standards, customer service and health and safety. I am extremely proud of, and grateful for, their incredible hard work and commitment in this most difficult year”. added Alison Brittain
“We hold a uniquely advantaged position in the UK market as the largest operator with the strongest brand, and we will continue to invest in our estate to enhance our customer proposition. Our investment in marketing includes the first major above-the-line Premier Inn marketing campaign for three years, branded ‘Rest Easy”. In Germany, we remain confident of the opportunity to replicate our model in the UK and have materially grown our estate from six hotels at the start of the year to 30 operational hotels currently, and a total open and committed pipeline of 72 hotels, representing a nation-wide footprint with a presence in most major towns and cities.”