Premier Inn owner Whitbread has surpassed its pre-Covid sales over the summer as the budget hotel brand has “made good progress” in attracting more corporate travellers.
The company said that it benefited from a “declining” independent hotel sector in the UK and Ireland with demand remaining “robust” despite economic uncertainty, while its German properties have seen a recovery in sales since the spring and “good trading momentum”.
Whitbread reported revenue of £1.35 billion for the six months to 1 September, which was up by 25 per cent on the same period in 2019. The company’s adjusted pre-tax profit also increased by 15 per cent to £271.9 million this year compared with 2019. Whitbread made a loss of £56.6 million during the same half-year period in 2021.
Alison Brittain, Whitbread’s CEO, said: "We remain focused on maintaining our position as the UK's number one hotel chain and are well on the way to replicating that success in the German market. We delivered an outstanding trading performance in the first half of the year, with revenues and profit before tax above pre-pandemic levels.”
Brittain added that Premier Inn’s UK hotels had “traded well ahead of the market” and there had been “good progress” in Germany.
“Despite macroeconomic uncertainties, our current trading performance is strong and our business has proven its resilience in previous downturns,” she said. “With a robust balance sheet and significant growth potential in both the UK and Germany, we remain confident in the full-year outlook and our ability to deliver long-term value for all our stakeholders.”
Premier Inn has been trying to attract more corporate business through working more closely with travel management companies (TMCs). It has also created a Business Account and Business Booker portal, which provides a guaranteed discount on its headline Flex room rate.
The company said it now had 76,000 active Business Booker accounts in the UK and Germany; these customers currently account for around 8 per cent of Premier Inn’s total accommodation sales, which is up from a share of 6 per cent of bookings a year ago.
These business travel initiatives have helped Premier Inn to “make good progress in attracting corporate customers, further expanding our reach”.
But the hotel firm has warned that margins in the UK over the next six months are expected to be lower than during the previous half-year period “due to normal seasonality and the phasing of investment and inflationary pressures”.
Premier Inn is also planning more expansion and is “on course” to add 1,500-2,000 rooms in the UK during the current financial year, as well as 2,000-2,500 rooms in Germany. The brand has raised its long-term target in the UK and Ireland from 110,000 to 125,000 rooms.