Whitbread To Cut Up To 1,500 Jobs

Hospitality group Whitbread has revealed it is to cut around 1,500 jobs across the UK amid plans to reduce its chain of branded restaurants by more than 200 in favour of building more hotel rooms.

The group, which owns restaurants including Brewers Fayre and Beefeater, said the job cuts are still subject to consultation and come from its total UK workforce of 37,000 employees.

During the 2024 fiscal year ended 29 February, the 126 restaurants generated revenue of £147m and loss before tax of £9m.

The group will also convert 112 branded restaurants into new hotel rooms over the next 24 months.
It follows reports in March that Whitbread was looking to sell or convert around a third of its Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pubs.

Chief executive Dominic Paul said:
“We recognise that our transition will impact some of our team members so we will be providing support throughout this process and we are committed to working hard to enable as many as possible of those affected to remain with us.”

The company’s total food and beverage sales were up only 7% year on year, driven mainly by breakfasts in the restaurant chain.

Food and beverage sales were down 2% for the seven weeks to April 18, the most recent period on record.

As a result, Whitbread said the cost-cutting programme will save about £150 million over the next three years.

The company also said it will offer a £150 million stock buy-back to shareholders in the next six months and increase dividend payments by 26% this year.

Dominic Paul, chief executive of Whitbread, said:
“Our freehold-backed balance sheet, together with our strategy of continuing to invest, is allowing us to take advantage of the significant structural growth opportunity that exists following the decline in UK hotel supply.

“Against this backdrop, we are increasing our momentum to deliver long-term profitable growth. In addition to our strong commercial programme, we plan to optimise our F&B offer at a number of our sites to unlock up to 3,500 room extensions that will enhance the service for our hotel guests and deliver increased operational efficiencies.”

Whitbread’s Premier Inn is the UK’s largest hotel group, with around 12% market share of total hotel room supply. Within the UK, it has over 85,000 rooms across 853 hotels, serviced by 37,000 staff.