Whitbread and Wetherspoons to cut a combined 6,450 jobs
The announcements from two of the UK’s biggest hotel and pub companies came as prime minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions on the hospitality sector which has bared the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
A new 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants could last for up to six months.
Whitbread blamed the cuts on a slump in hotel guest numbers since lockdown. It plans to lose up to 18% of its workforce.
About 27,000 of the company’s 35,000 staff are still being paid in part by the government’s furlough scheme which is due to end next month.
Alison Brittain, Whitbread chief executive officer, says: “With demand for travel remaining subdued, we are now having to make some very difficult decisions, and it is with great regret that today we are announcing our intention to enter into a consultation process that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies in the UK, of which it is hoped that a significant proportion can be achieved voluntarily.”
Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon plans to slash the number of staff working at its pubs at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. The pub chain has warned that almost half of its 1,000 airport staff could lose their jobs, due to the dramatic fall in the number of people flying.
John Hutson, JD Wetherspoons chief executive, says: “The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports. We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage.”