Whitbread announced their preliminary results today for the year-ending February 2022, with a pre-tax profit of £58m following losses of £1bn last year. It also reported revenue growth of 189% versus 2021.
The performance was driven by the Premier Inn brand which, according to CEO Alison Brittain, “continues to significantly outperform the market” with the company “trading well ahead of pre-COVID levels for most of the second half, with the exception only of January, when occupancy levels dipped as a result of Omicron”. Premier Inns opened over 3700 rooms in the financial year taking the UK estate to over 82,000 rooms.
Brittain also said, “Our UK restaurant business also bounced back strongly from last year, but still traded behind pre-COVID levels. As the recovery in the pub and restaurant value sector lagged the wider market trends improved in the second half of the year”.
“Whilst our own trading performance is strong, and we’re outperforming, it’s worth remembering that the overall market is still very tough. The overall UK market is still behind the pre COVID levels, and the midscale and economy market has only just recovered to pre COVID levels.
“In Premier Inn we see a broad-based recovery across all customer groups. Leisure demand levels, which account for around 50% of our revenues remain strong. Tradespeople business demand, which accounts for 25% of our revenues has been resilient throughout the crisis and that continues to be the case. Office-work business demand, also around 25% of our revenues is recovering well post Omicron. International inbound levels which account for 10% percent of our revenues are increasing and overseas website visits have increased sharply in recent weeks and are now at around 10% below pre COVID levels.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve commented on when we expect our UK like-for-like rev par recovery to happen. We first stated that recovery would happen in calendar year 2023. And then we accelerated that to be at some point in the calendar year 2022. However, given our strong performance in the second half of the year, and into the start of this year, we think it’s hard to argue that this recovery hasn’t already happened. And absent any changes to the COVID outlook, it seems logical to now refer to an environment where our rev par has recovered, and we are already trading above pre-pandemic levels.”