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Premier Inn owner Whitbread has said that it could axe up to 6,000 jobs because of reduced demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said the proposal would affect 18 per cent of its workforce in its hotel and restaurant brands, adding that it hoped that voluntary redundancy and lower contracted hours would make up a a « significant proportion » of the planned cuts.
Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said: « With demand for travel remaining subdued, we are now having to make some very difficult decisions, and it is with great regret that today we are announcing our intention to enter into a consultation process that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies in the UK, of which it is hoped that a significant proportion can be achieved voluntarily. »
The plan for cutting jobs comes as demand is set to remain subdued in the short to medium-term, and with the Government’s furlough scheme ending next month.
The job losses also come on top of cuts to reduce its head office workforce by up to a fifth.
Whitbread also owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurant chains, and has had to shut its UK restaurants and hotels for four months during lockdown. The company reported UK like-for-like sales collapsing by 77.6 per cent in the six months to 27 August.
The group said it expects the jobs to go by the end of the year, but the vast majority of its 900 hotels and 350 restaurants would remain open.
It added that hotel sales growth has been strong since reopening, with those located in seaside and tourist spots almost 80 per cent full in August as Britons chose to take their holidays within the UK instead of travelling abroad.
Ms Brittain said: “Our performance following the reopening has been ahead of the market, however, it has been clear from the beginning of this crisis that even as restrictions are eased and hospitality business such as ours reopen their doors, that demand would be materially lower than full year 2020 levels for a period of time.”
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