Whitbread says market slowing after fresh virus curbs, sinks to loss

Credit: REUTERS/LEE SMITH

Whitbread said on Tuesday market performance has slowed since early October after the government instructed people to work from home and imposed new regional lockdowns, as the Premier-Inn owner plunged to a loss in the first half.

Adds CEO quote, details on Germany deal, occupancy rates, background

Oct 27 (Reuters) - Whitbread WTB.L said on Tuesday market performance has slowed since early October after the government instructed people to work from home and imposed new regional lockdowns, as the Premier-Inn owner plunged to a loss in the first half.

While the hospitality industry had seen some signs of recovery after coronavirus restrictions began easing in July, a new wave of infections is threatening to bring even more pain for a sector that has seen widespread layoffs.

"This is likely to accelerate the structural changes in the market with supply contraction and constrained investment amongst independent and budget branded operators in both the UK and Germany," Chief Executive Officer Alison Brittain said.

The company said while its performance was better than its peers, the COVID-19 crisis has clouded near-term visibility.

Premier Inn UK's occupancy increased to 58% in September from 51% in August, as leisure bookings and business-to-business sales picked up, albeit from a low base, Whitbread said.

Having raised 1.01 billion pounds earlier this year, the company said on Tuesday it signed a deal for up to 15 hotels in Germany in effort to cash in on the distress in the sector.

The owner of the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block chains said first-half pretax loss was 724.7 million pounds ($944.50 million), compared with a pretax profit of 219.9 million pounds a year earlier.

($1 = 0.7673 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

((tanishaa.nadkar@thomsonreuters.com; +919730172534; Twitter - @TanishaaNadkar;))

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