Bonus blow for Premier Inn boss Alison Brittain

Bonus blow for Premier Inn boss Alison Brittain: Shareholder’s fury at pay report after company posts £1bn loss

The boss of Premier Inn hotels Alison Brittain was dealt a blow by shareholders after being awarded a bonus despite the company posting a £1billion loss.

Investors in parent company Whitbread cast 35.8 per cent of votes against the company’s pay report, handing chief executive Brittain and the board a bloody nose over its decision to dish out £1.5million of performance payouts.

This was despite the company receiving more than £250million of taxpayer support, making 1,500 staff redundant and cutting the dividend to zero.

Investors in Premier Inn’s parent company Whitbread cast 35.8 per cent of votes against the company’s pay report which hands chief exec Alison Brittain (pictured) a £729,000 bonus

It also came after the company posted a £1billion loss in the year to the end of March, compared with a £280millio profit the year before.

Despite this, Brittain could get an £729,000 annual bonus, while finance chief Nicholas Cadbury is in line for £492,000.

The vote is embarrassing, especially as it comes less than two years after the substantial 30.2 per cent revolt against the company’s move to institute a less arduous restricted share scheme for executives.

Yesterday’s vote earned the firm a ‘red top’ warning from the Investment Association (IA), which looks after £8.5trillion for investors, and is one of Britain’s most powerful voices on executive pay. ISS, another group which advises shareholders, also said the ‘significant’ awards ‘are not considered appropriate’ when staff, taxpayers and investors have suffered.

More than a third of shareholders, voting at the company’s virtual annual general meeting yesterday, agreed.

Any vote over 20 per cent is considered a revolt, and will be enough to earn Whitbread a place on the IA’s list of shame.

They threw out the company’s attempt to dampen opposition by delaying the awards until 2022, when they will be subject to another round of targets. The company said this meant no bonus payments were actually made this year.

Whitbread said it had ‘noted’ the response and would continue to have ‘constructive discussions’ with shareholders, adding: ‘We will report on any actions resulting from those discussions in due course.’

Yesterday, the company reported ‘very strong’ bookings throughout the summer from tourists planning to travel to hotels in UK coastal and rural locations.

It has now opened 98 per cent of its hotels, but warned the recovery of its pubs were dependent on lockdown restrictions being lifted on July 19.

In the three months to May 30, takings in its Premier Inns were at 39.1 per cent of 2019 levels, while revenues in its pubs, which include the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre brands, were at 14 per cent of 2019 levels.

Taken together, the group’s revenue was just under 30 per cent of 2019 levels over the three-month period.