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Sept. 22, 2020, 2:30 a.m. EDT

Whitbread: Proposals could eliminate 6,000 jobs

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By Adria Calatayud

Whitbread PLC said Tuesday that it is consulting on proposals that could result in up to 6,000 job cuts, or 18% of its workforce, as it prepares for a period of subdued market demand.

The U.K. hotel-and-restaurant company, which owns the Premier Inn brand, said it is looking to emerge from the crisis with a lower cost base and a more flexible operating model. The company said it expects a significant proportion of the planned redundancies to be achieved voluntarily.

Whitbread said its U.K. and international total sales were down 75% for the quarter ended Aug. 27, reflecting closures of the vast majority of its hotels and restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as reduced occupancy rates since reopening.

The company said it experienced improvements in August, with total sales in the U.K. down 39% and occupancy levels averaging 51%.

The company's accommodation sales in the first two weeks of September were ahead of the market. While September and October are a period when bookings pick up after the quiet summer period, it is too early to assess the impact of coronavirus on this period, Whitbread said.

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