The UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group has asked landlords to slash its rent bill in half as its struggles with the impact of the pandemic.
FTSE 100-listed Whitbread, which owns brands including Premier Inn and Beefeater, called for the three-month reduction in rent because thousands of hotel rooms are empty.
Just a quarter of rooms in Whitbread’s 800 hotels were occupied in November. The group has scrapped its shareholder dividend, furloughed 27,000 staff and warned it could cut 6,000 jobs. Unlike many of its peers, Whitbread has, until now, paid its rent in full since the pandemic began.
However, landlords are likely to resist attempts to push for a rent reduction from the company, which is valued at £6bn. Commercial property owners have missed out on an estimated £4.5bn this year as tenants have withheld payments. Much of that debt is thought to be unlikely to be recovered, leaving commercial property landlords sitting on big losses.