With demand for travel remaining subdued, Whitbread now plans to take the hard decision to cut jobs. The UK leisure group and owner of Premier Inn hotels, announced on Tuesday that it could axe up to 6,000 jobs and blamed "subdued" travel demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The London-listed leisure firm said that it expected a "significant proportion" of the redundancies would be on a voluntary basis.
Britain reopened its hospitality sector in July, after a months-long nationwide lockdown that began on March 23. Even the UK government launched stimulus package for the troubled industry, including a restaurant discount scheme - entitled 'Eat Out to Help Out' - and a cut in value-added tax (VAT). However, the times are still tough and uncertainity about things going back to normal keep on increasing. Given how the pandemic has changed how people travel, the entire sector is going through a turmoil.
Whitbread stressed that its staff had worked "very hard" to reopen the group from lockdown." Our teams have worked very hard to reopen our hotels and restaurants and we are now firmly in the 'restore' phase of our response to the COVID-19 crisis," said Chief Executive Alison Brittain. This is why it's with a heavy heart and "great regret that today we are announcing our intention to enter into a consultation process that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies in the UK."
The group's performance following the reopenings "has been ahead of the market," she said. But the challenges continues, pushing the leaders to take some tough decisions. However, Brittain belives this is a minor setback. We continue to work hard to ensure that we emerge from the crisis with a more flexible operating model and a stronger, more resilient business," she said.