Premier Inn sees faster than expected recovery

Premier Inn owner Whitbread has seen a strong rebound after lockdown, with its performance in the six months to the end of August ahead of expectations.

The budget hotel chain’s revenue per available room, a key measure for the hotel sector, reached £32.13 — nearly three times last year’s £10.87 — and is expected to fully recover sometime next year.

Group pre-tax loss in the six-month period narrowed from £724.7m last year to £19.3m, but this was still far below the profit of £219.9m made before the pandemic.

Total revenue amounted to £650.6m — 39% down on the same period pre-pandemic two years ago, but more than double compared with last year.

“Whitbread traded significantly ahead of the market in the UK during the first half of the year, with our regional hotels trading ahead of pre-Covid-19 levels in the last six weeks of the half,” said chief executive Alison Brittain.

“This strong performance has continued into the second half, with sustained high levels of leisure demand and resilient demand from tradespeople.”

Brittain added, however, that the operating environment during the summer and into autumn has been “challenging” as a result of high occupancy levels, market-wide supply chain issues and a tighter labour supply in the hospitality sector.

Whitbread will pay millions in wage rises as well as a summer retention bonus for hotel and restaurant staff to help address what it said were “persistent” staff shortages.