Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread says that around 1,500 staff have left the business as a result of travel restrictions and decreased demand caused by Covid-19.

The group said that the workforce reduction was a result of it completing “the restructure of our hotel and restaurant operations teams”, but added that the figure is below the 6,000 maximum for redundancies that it had previously indicated, due to “a greater proportion of colleagues accepting a reduction in maximum contracted hours”.

Total UK accommodations sales were down 55.2 per cent in the third quarter, with occupancy at just 49.3 per cent, as Covid-19 restrictions “continued to create very challenging hotel market conditions”.

But Whitbread pointed to positives including total market share growth of 4.1 per cent to 11.4 per cent, and the accelerated growth of the Premier Inn brand in Germany.

The group recently announced plans to add 13 hotels in locations including Wolfsburg, Osnabruck and Karlsruhe, following the acquisition of the properties from the Centro Hotel Group.

Premier Inn to add 13 hotels in Germany

Around two thirds of Premier Inn’s properties are currently open in the UK for essential business and keyworker accommodation, but all restaurants are currently closed.

The hotel group opened its latest flagship hotel in London’s Southwark in December, shortly before the latest lockdown restrictions.

“Since the start of the Covid crisis, we have responded quickly and robustly to the changing restrictions and have learnt to rapidly adapt our operations as required,” said CEO Alison Brittain.

“This is testament to the efforts of our colleagues who continue to work tirelessly to maintain our very high operating standards, customer service and high levels of health and safety. This response has enabled us to continue to deliver strong market share gains in the UK, demonstrating the benefits of our strong brand, direct distribution, and our unique operating model.

“We expect the current travel restrictions in the UK and Germany to remain until at the very least the end of our financial year. With the vaccination programme underway, we look forward to the potential gradual relaxation of restrictions from the Spring, business and leisure confidence returning, and our market recovering over the rest of the year.

“We are well placed to continue to outperform the increasingly constrained budget branded and independent competitor sets, by leveraging the benefits of our unique operating model. We expect to see increasing opportunities to develop in both the UK and Germany and are pleased to have accelerated our growth in Germany with the recent acquisition of 13 hotels, taking the open and committed pipeline to 68 hotels, a major step on our path to achieving a nation-wide footprint with representation in most major towns and cities.

“We continue to protect our liquidity through the careful management of our cash position, and to take actions to ensure that we exit the crisis as a leaner, stronger and more resilient business. Our strong balance sheet also provides the opportunity to take full advantage of the enhanced structural opportunities that we are already seeing in the market.”