Whitbread swings to interim loss but continues expanding in Germany

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Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB) posted an interim loss but said it continues focusing on the expansion in Germany, having signed for a further 15 hotels.

Since reopening its hotels in July, the Premier Inn owner said UK performance has been ahead of the market.

READ: IHG and Whitbread upgraded as JPMorgan sees business travel concerns as overdone

Occupancy in the UK increased from 51% in August to 58% in September, but market performance has slowed down since local lockdowns were implemented in October.

The firm expects profit and cash for this year remain broadly consistent with the guidance shared in May, despite COVID-19 uncertainty ahead.

In the first half, cash outflow was £100mln while the second half is expected to see an inflow of £28mln in addition to any changes in level of customer deposits.

Capital spend is estimated to be around £120-130mln in both periods, while the second half will see an extra £40mln related to the German acquisition.

The Job retention scheme grant brought a benefit of £85mln during the first half and is expected to contribute a net £5-10mln in the rest of the year.

In Germany, where the company is eyeing the growing budget hotel market, the committed pipeline is 68 hotels while the estate counts 29 sites.

In the six months to August 27, revenue tanked 77% while last year’s £219 profit before tax turned into a £724mln loss.

Whitbread had £936mln in the bank following a £1bn rights issue completed in June. It also had an undrawn Revolving Credit Facility of £950mln, and up to £600mln available under the Government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility scheme.

In a separate announcement, the firm said group HR director Louise Smalley will retire next spring so it is now looking for a successor.

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