- Premier Inn hotel chain owner Whitbread swung to a steep first-half loss and scrapped its dividend after the Covid-19 pandemic triggered lockdowns and travel bans that devastated the hospitality sector.

Pre-tax losses for the six months through September amounted to £724.7 million, compared to a year-on-year profit of £219.9 million.

Revenue slumped 77% to £250.8 million.

On current trading, Whitbread said Premier Inn UK's occupancy increased from 51% in August to 58% in September.

The company's total accommodation sales recovery year-on-year was around 6% ahead of the 'mid-scale and economy market' in September.

'We continued to see good leisure bookings and a pick-up in business-to-business sales, albeit from a low base,' Whitbread said.

However, it added that it had seen another slowdown in market performance since a UK government announcement in early October instructing working from home where possible and recent regional lockdowns.

'Our performance has remained ahead of the market, but with the fast-changing nature of the Covid-19 environment, near-term visibility remains limited,' the company said.

'Despite this, profit and cash sensitivities for this year remain broadly consistent with those articulated in May.'

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