Premier Inn owner Whitbread says it is "trading ahead of the market" despite posting a massive £725 million first-half (H1 2021) loss during the six months to 27 August.
The firm was forced to close much of its hotel and restaurant estate towards the end of March, with its German properties reopening in May and UK sites in July and August.
This, it said on Tuesday (27 October), resulted in a near total – 99% – year-on-year decline in total H1 statutory revenue during the Covid lockdown, with overall statutory revenue down 76.9% year-on-year as a result.
The decline in revenue resulted in a statutory loss before tax of £724.9 million, down from a £219.9 profit during H1 2020.
Whitbread though said its performance was "in-line with expectations" and reflected the closure of the "vast majority" of its businesses towards the end of March.
"We rapidly reopened our estate, with 97% of our UK hotels reopened by the end of July, and we have subsequently grown our market share," said the firm in a trading update on Tuesday.
In Germany, Whitbread said it has more than trebled its open hotel network to 21 since the start of the year, and has signed a deal to open a further 15 hotels.
It added a £1 billion rights issue, completed in June, had provided "a strong platform" to continue expanding in the UK and Germany.
It also has access to a £950 million credit facility, and £600 million from the UK government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility if it needs either.
However, the firm warned the fast-changing nature of the Covid trading environment, particularly the impact of local and regional lockdowns, meant it was hard to accurately forecast any future developments.
Chief executive Alison Brittain said: "Our performance following the reopening of our hotels and restaurants in the summer was encouraging and we continue to trade ahead of the market."
Brittain said its "trusted" Premier Inn brand in the UK, in particular, had been resilient, and stressed that actions to protect guests and ensure Covid security had driven up customer feedback scores and helped the brand grow its market share in the UK.