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Monday, January 24, 2022

Premier Inn owner Whitbread says its UK business resilient amid Omicron spread

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– Premier Inn owner Whitbread said on Wednesday accommodation at its UK hotels has remained strong in recent weeks, despite the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, with third-quarter sales in the country rising 3.1%.

The hotel chain operator reiterated it expects sales at its UK hotels to fully recover this year and said overall like-for-like sales were 5% higher for the 13 weeks to Nov. 25.

However, Whitbread warned of headwinds from renewed pandemic-related curbs in Germany.

The hospitality industry was amongst the worst-hit during the early stages of the pandemic, but hotels, restaurants and other social venues began seeing an uptick in footfall last year as vaccination campaigns picked up and restrictions were eased.

“UK accommodation sales remained resilient in December, albeit softening as we moved through the month and into the festive period as a result of the onset of Omicron,” Chief Executive Officer Alison Brittain said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has bet on refraining from lockdowns to deal with Omicron, but Germany, a small market for Whitbread, has tightened several rules and many leaders there support a general vaccination mandate.

Whitbread, which also owns steakhouses Beefeater and Bar+Block, added that while its hotel performance was strong, the pub and restaurant sector “remains more challenging”.

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