Whitbread boosted by strong Premier Inn demand in Germany

  • Whitbread also operates the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurant chains 
  • The firm’s turnover increased by 1% to £739m in the 13 weeks ending 30 May

Whitbread posted marginal first-quarter sales growth following a solid performance in Germany boosted by the Euro 2024 football tournament and improved trading across its British Premier Inn hotels.

The hospitality firm, which also operates the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurant chains, revealed that its turnover increased by 1 per cent to £739million in the 13 weeks ending 30 May.

Accommodation sales jumped by 15 per cent in Germany, which the FTSE 100 group credited to greater room numbers and ‘the increasing maturity’ of its estate.

Marginal growth: Premier Inn owner Whitbread revealed that its turnover increased by 1 per cent to £739million in the 13 weeks ending 30 May

By comparison, the business reported revenue flatlined in the UK due to weak levels of last-minute weekend bookings, especially in London, and ‘softer trading’ in some branded restaurants.

Its accommodation sales in the capital fell 0.6 per cent to £120million. 

However, this was offset by regional sales rising by £2.1million to £374.1million even though occupancy and average room rates were slightly lower than the prior year.

Whitbread noted total revenues dipped slightly year-on-year during the first seven weeks of the period before recovering thanks to solid demand for peak leisure and midweek business stays at its Premier Inns. 

Following the result, Whitbread’s chief executive, Dominic Paul, said the company was ‘confident in its full-year outlook’ amid positive forward booking levels.

He added: ‘This reflects a more encouraging trading performance in the UK, our strong commercial programme and increased cost efficiencies, as well as good progress in Germany.’

Under its ‘accelerating growth plan,’ Whitbread plans to add another 3,500 rooms in the UK and ‘optimise’ its food and beverage offering by closing 126 restaurants and converting 112 others into hotels.

A protest organised by Unite the union is planned today in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, against Whitbread’s plans to close these restaurants and cut around 1,500 jobs.

Unite claims the company has refused to consult with them or answer ‘any of its basic questions’ on redundancy measures.

Mark Crouch, analyst at eToro, remarked: ‘The hotel sector is Whitbread’s bread and butter, and despite economic challenges, the brand is clearly carrying weight with customers at a time when consumer spending is falling.

‘With Premier Inn making up over 70 per cent of Whitbread’s revenue, it’s little surprise the company is moving more of its eggs into their Premier Inn basket.’

Whitbread shares were 3.9 per cent up at £30.32 on Tuesday morning, making them the top riser on the FTSE 100 Index, although the firm’s shares remain significantly below their pre-pandemic levels.

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