Staff at Irish hotels in the Premier Inn group are in line for bonuses as the UK-based owner of the budget hotel chain, Whitbread, seeks to retain employees amid “chronic” labour shortages and increasing cost pressures.
As reported by The Irish Times, Whitbread is spending £23 million (€27.3 million) to retain employees at its Premier Inn hotels.
Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain reportedly said that the surge in domestic holiday bookings has contributed to “a challenging operating environment” and that the industry is facing “a quite chronic shortage of people”.
Whitbread reportedly said that it is reportedly paying a £10 million bonus to employees who worked through the summer and stayed until the October half-term holiday this week, and that it has also increased staff salaries at a cost of £12 million to £13 million.
Whitbread reportedly said that it is also facing increasing food, drink and energy costs.
A Whitbread spokesperson reportedly confirmed that the bonuses will apply to “Irish colleagues” but reportedly could not confirm whether they are also in line for pay rises.
Whitbread is reportedly currently looking to hire approximately 2,000 additional staff to reach a total headcount of between 33,000 and 34,000.
Whitbread reportedly said that increases to salaries and the once-off staff bonus will not prevent it returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic revenues in 2022, which is reportedly a year earlier than it had previously forecast, thanks to the staycation boom.
Whitbread reportedly reported that trading in August was 10.5% higher than during the same period in 2019 and was “ahead of expectations”, even though bookings had slowed in September.
Whitbread reportedly said that revenue per available room (RevPAR) in its British hotels “has the potential to return” to a pre-COVID-19 pandemic run rate in 2022.
Overall revenues during the six month period that ended on August 31 were reportedly £662 million, which was reportedly 39% below the same period in 2019. It reportedly recorded a £19 million pre-tax loss, which was reportedly down from a £220 million profit in the equivalent period two years ago.
Brittain reportedly said that the struggle to recruit staff is not holding up Whitbread’s expansion plans.
Whitbread is reportedly aiming to open 3,000 rooms each year in Britain, reaching 110,000 rooms overall across bigger, more efficient hotels, and Whitbread reportedly said that in Germany it has deals signed for over 8,000 rooms and sees potential to reach 60,000 rooms in total as it takes advantage of the fragmented German hotel market.
Whitbread has reportedly consistently outperformed the budget hotel sector but analysts reportedly warned that its market share gains came at a cost.
Bernstein analyst Richard Clarke reportedly pointed out that the company has spent £20 million on increased marketing and that a full recovery of its margin will rely on “rare pricing power” given the inflationary cost pressures.
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