Renewed concern about the rate of coronavirus infections globally may have contributed to the 4.3% fall in Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB) this morning as it updated on first quarter trading. The shares slipped back to £23.33.

Almost inevitably the numbers for the period from the end of February to the end of May were horrible given they coincided almost exactly with the emergence of the pandemic.

Most of its hotels in the UK and Germany were shuttered from the end of March with revenue down around 80% in the period.

Whitbread said over 270 of its UK hotels and 24 restaurants had now reopened with the majority of the rest of the estate due to reopen throughout July.

All 19 operational hotels were now open in Germany, including 13 new hotels that were refurbished and rebranded as Premier Inn during lockdown.

‘As expected, our first quarter performance reflects the impact of the closure of our hotel and restaurant operations, in both the UK and Germany, at the end of March,’ chief executive Alison Brittain said.

Brittain said the company completion of a £1bn rights issue on 10 June would enable the company to ‘maintain our competitive advantage and financial flexibility’.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould commented: ‘The commentary on initial trading post-lockdown is interesting and potentially leaves Whitbread better placed than some of its rivals if the trends it has identifies persist over the longer term.

‘The company has seen decent demand in regional tourist hotspots but subdued appetite in London and other metropolitan areas.

‘Unlike other chains which are more centred on the capital and other cities, Whitbread has sites throughout the country.’

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Issue Date: 07 Jul 2020