Whitbread to axe 1,500 jobs amid restaurant closures

One of the UK's largest hotel and restaurant operators is preparing to cut approximately 1,500 jobs amid plans to slash its restaurant estate by over 200 venues, while simultaneously expanding its hotel arm. 

Whitbread Plc – owner of restaurant brands Bar + Block, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Cookhouse Pub, Hub, Thyme, Table Table and Whitbead Inns, as well as hotel chain Premier Inn – claims the cuts are subject to consultation and will be drawn from its 37,000-strong UK workforce.

The news comes as the group announces a 21% surge in pre-tax profit to £452m for the year ending 29 February, predominantly driven by the strong performance of Premier Inn. Meanwhile, sales are down 2% on the food and beverage (F&B) side of the business. 

Restructuring the business

The operator has laid out plans to sell 126 less successful restaurants, with 21 acquisitions already agreed in deals worth £28m. Whitbread has also announced plans to convert 112 restaurants into hotel rooms, leaving the group with 196 "higher returning" F&B outlets. The news forms part of an "accelerating growth plan" that will see the operator add 3,500 rooms to its UK portfolio – a move projected to boost profits by up to £90m a year by 2029. 

The restaurants will remain open until sales are agreed, but Whitbread has not yet confirmed which brands are subject to closure.

Dominic Paul, CEO of Whitbread, comments: "We recognise that our transition will impact some of our team members so we will be providing support throughout this process and we are committed to working hard to enable as many as possible of those affected to remain with us. The short-term impact on our profit performance this year will be more than offset by an uplift from FY27 with further increases thereafter in both margins and returns as we open more of the new extensions."

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