Whitbread’s Premier Inn reported strong third-quarter occupancy figures for its 890 hotels, averaging 85 percent. Executives credited the performance to travelers becoming more cost-conscious during an inflationary period in its key markets of the UK, Germany, and the Middle East and thus migrating away from costlier hotel brands.
The budget hotel chain said on Thursday that its sales at its UK hotels in the 13 weeks to December 1 grew 36.9 percent compared with the comparable pre-pandemic quarter of September 2019 through November 2019.
Outgoing CEO Alison Brittain said the core Premier Inn UK business outperformed its wider economy and midscale peers by 24.1 percentage points during the period.
Brittain estimated that the overall UK supply of independent budget hotels fell 10 percent during the pandemic. She predicted the company would take its UK supply of 82,700 rooms up to about 125,000 rooms over time.
So far in early 2023, Premier Inn sees “solid forward bookings” across its network.
The hotel brand is pushing into Germany with 45 open hotels and 36 in development. The effort is capital-intensive and currently money-losing. Executives predicted the German hotel business would this year suffer a pre-tax loss of roughly $48 million to $68 million (£40 million to £50 million).
Whitbread also is the owner of about 800 restaurants. The entire group can cover expected inflation in 2023 by having “like-for-like sales growth of 3 to 4 percent,” executives said.
Incoming CEO Dominic Paul, the former boss of Domino’s Pizza, replaces Brittain when she departs on January 17.