Premier Inn owner sees ‘post-lockdown bounce’ ahead of summer of staycations

Premier Inn owner, Whitbread, has cheered a “post-lockdown bounce” after restrictions eased last month and holidaymakers look forward to a summer of staycations.

Premier Inn’s Yorkshire hotels will see a boost as holidaymakers flock to the Yorkshire Dales this summer

The group said trading has been strong since May 17, when overnight hotel leisure stays were allowed following lockdown, while forward bookings have remained buoyant, boosted by the ongoing restrictions on international travel.

Its hotels are 74 per cent full, with falls in food and drink sales narrowing to 25 per cent.

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This showed a marked improvement on Whitbread’s first quarter figures when restrictions remained in place for much of the period. First quarter like-for-like UK accommodation sales plunged 62 per cent on a two-year basis, with food and drink sales 86 per cent lower over the 13 weeks to May 27.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “Trading in the UK since May 17, when overnight leisure stays were permitted, and when our restaurants fully reopened for indoor service, has been encouraging.

“Additionally, our forward bookings continue to improve, benefiting from the anticipated post-lockdown bounce in leisure demand, and a continued gradual improvement in business bookings.”

The group said 98 per cent of its UK hotels and restaurants are now open.

Whitbread said the month-long delay to the full lifting of lockdown restrictions has not impacted its full-year outlook, although it will keep leisure demand under pressure.

“We expect leisure demand in coastal and other tourist locations to remain very strong throughout the summer, while the full recovery of leisure demand is dependent on the final release of lockdown, and the return of unrestricted events,” the group said.

The group sank to a huge £1bn loss in the year to February, when most of its estate was forced to shut for much of the first six months.

Whitbread survived the pandemic by tapping into £270m in claims from the UK and German governments for furlough cash and support, and also raised £1bn from shareholders, alongside £550m in a Green Bond.