Premier Inn owner Whitbread has announced it will slash 6,000 jobs as the hospitality sector continues to be pummelled by coronavirus.
The cuts mean 18% of the company’s workforce will be cut, with Premier Inn staff to be worst hit.
The decison comes as the company revealed UK sales were down 77.6% in the first six months this year after hotels and restaurants were forced into lockdown in March. Whitbread added that most of its hotels and restaurants reopened in August but added that business remained subdued, particularly in London and other metropolitan areas.
It is hoping a “significant proportion” of the job cuts will be made through voluntary redundancy and lowered contracted hours for some staff.
Whitbread said the plans come as demand is set to remain subdued in the short to medium-term and with the Government’s furlough scheme coming to an end next month.
The company had forced to do a £1 billion rights issue earlier this year.
The company said: “With market demand expected to remain at lower levels in the short to medium-term, we have now taken the very difficult decision to announce our intention to enter into consultation on proposals that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies for our hotel and restaurant colleagues (representing 18% of our total workforce).
“We expect a significant proportion of these redundancies to be achieved voluntarily. Our priority now is to ensure that the process is fair and that impacted colleagues are supported throughout.”
The company added: “This is a regrettable but necessary step to ensure that we emerge from the crisis with a lower cost base, a more flexible operating model and a stronger more resilient business.”
Alison Brittain chief executive said: “With demand for travel remaining subdued, we are now having to make some very difficult decisions, and it is with 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, of which it is hoped that a significant proportion can be achieved voluntarily.”