Whitbread hoping to draw a line under lockdown as Scotland starts to reopen

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Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB ) is certain to report a huge annual loss tomorrow, but it is how it sees the recovery from Covid-19 that will be the focus of investors.


Peel Hunt, the broker, said Whitbread is in a good position to benefit once the economy starts to recover.


Tomorrow’s number won’t be pretty, with an ex[ected loss of around GBP690mln and revenues set to drop by 73%, but over 90% of the estate is now open, added the broker.


“Industry data shows revenue running at.25% of 2019 levels as essential business travel, and perhaps some people with a relaxed interpretation of the current travel rules, return.”


Peel Hunt believes that the budget market segment in which Whitbread operates is likely to recover more quickly than the rest of the hotel industry and a rapid bounce back in the broader economy would benefit the company.


However, international inbound travel to the UK will be slow to recover and depends on the progress of Covid-19 and vaccinations in source countries.


Travelodge recently updated the market and highlighted the relative resilience of the Midscale and Economy segments, where Whitbread’s Premier Inn is market leader, Peel Hunt added.


Scotland and Wales, meanwhile, today become the latest parts of the UK hospitality to reopen with pubs and restaurants allowed to trade again.


England had already permitted outdoor trading from 12 April and from today Scottish cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens can sell drinks outside and food inside while non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries, galleries and museums can open again.


Venues will have to close at 8pm indoors with drinks allowed to be served outdoors until 10.30pm.


In Wales, pubs and restaurants can reopen outdoors again.


The next major date in England is 17 May, when indoor restrictions are scheduled to be relaxed and most outdoor social restrictions ease.

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