StockMarketWire.com - Premier Inn hotel chain owner Whitbread swung to a deep annual loss after the pandemic devastated the tourism sector.

Pre-tax losses for the year through March amounted to £1.00 billion, compared to a year-on-year profit of £280.0 million, as revenue tumbled 72% to £589.4 million.

Whitbread, which recently sold its Costa coffee chain to focus on hotels, did not declare a final dividend.

In the UK, the company said over 92% of its hotels were now open. It was 'ready to welcome leisure guests back' to its hotels from 17 May, alongside a full reopening of all of its restaurants.

Whitbread said strong demand was expected for 'staycations' in UK tourist destinations throughout the summer.

In Germany, 18 of the company's 30 operational hotels were open with six of the temporarily closed hotels being refurbished and rebranded to Premier Inn.

'The last financial year was one of the most challenging in our 279 year history, as we operated under significant Covid restrictions,' chief executive Alison Brittain said.

'The vaccination programme in the UK means we can look forward to the planned relaxation of government restrictions as we move into summer, with the first major milestone being the return of leisure guests to our hotels, and the full reopening of restaurants from 17 May.'

'We expect a significant bounce in leisure demand in our tourist locations during the summer, followed by a gradual recovery in business and event-driven leisure demand.'

'We continue to take actions to ensure that we exit the crisis as a leaner, stronger and more resilient business, including commencing the next three-year phase of our efficiency programme that will target £100 million of cost savings.'

'Combined with our financial flexibility and strong balance sheet, this gives us the ability and the confidence to invest with discipline and focus on strong long-term returns.'



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