Whitbread has revealed that its Premier Inn brand is recovering ahead of expectations in its interim results for the six months to August 26, 2021.

In the first half of the year the budget hotel chain saw total accommodation sales for September jump by 9.7 per cent in comparison to last year. Whitbread said that leisure demand remains strong in the UK, and that business demand is improving.

Whitbread said that the Covid-19 restrictions “materially impacted the performance of the UK business in the first quarter”. Measures included the closure of restaurants at its hotels, and only essential business guests being permitted to stay overnight prior to May 17.

The group’s statutory revenues for the first half of the 2022 financial year fell 39 per cent to £661.6 million compared to the 2020 financial year, which it said was as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Additionally, it reported a £56.6 million pre-tax loss for the first half of its 2022 financial year, compared to £367.4 million in the previous year.

Looking ahead, Whitbread says that it is “confident on the return to pre-pandemic UK profit margins” but adds that it will “have to wait to assess speed of recovery once we have greater visibility of longer-term inflation and supply chain pressures”.

Alison Brittain, CEO of Whitbread, commented:

“Whitbread traded significantly ahead of the market in the UK during the first half of the year, with our regional hotels trading ahead of pre-COVID-19 levels in the last six weeks of the half. This strong performance has continued into the second half, with sustained high levels of leisure demand and resilient demand from tradespeople. Whilst some uncertainty remains over the speed and timing of the market recovery for office-based and international demand and the evolution of the pandemic in the winter months, we believe that UK like-for-like RevPAR run rates have  the potential to reach full recovery in at some point during 2022.

“The operating environment during the summer and into autumn has been challenging largely as a result of our very high occupancy levels, market-wide supply chain issues and a tighter labour supply in the hospitality sector. Although we are not immune from these challenges, we are well placed to respond. Our £100m efficiency programme is well underway and we are “investing to win” in our teams, our hotels and our marketing, in order to continue to grow our market share as demand recovers and as our competitors continue to be under pressure.”