Premier Inn parent Whitbead has announced it will enter into consultation with staff over proposals that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies.
Whitbread said the move, which will see its workforce reduced by 18%, was "regrettable but necessary step" to ensure it emerges from the coronavirus crisis with a lower cost base, more flexible operating model and "stronger more resilient business".
Redundancies will spread across hotel and restaurant staff, Whitbread confirmed in a note to the stock exchange on Tuesday (22 September). The firm also owns the Beefeater restaurant chain.
Whitbread said first-half sales were "significantly down" year-on-year owing to the closure of the "vast majority" of its hotels and restaurants due to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
Despite reopening the majority of its estate by the start of August, and seeing strong demand in tourist locations, occupancy levels averaged only 51% in August due to "subdued" demand in London and metropolitan areas, while the firm’s restaurant numbers were down more than a third, albeit boosted by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
However, Whitbread said the decision to press ahead with redundancies was necessitated by its expectation that market demand will "remain at lower levels in the short to medium-term".
Chief executive Alison Brittain said with demand for travel remaining subdued, it was with "great regret" the firm would now enter into consultation with staff, adding she hoped the majority of redundancies could be achieved on a voluntary basis.