Whitbread, the owner of premier inn, said it plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs as demand remains well below last years levels.

The ftse 100 company said on tuesday that despite an uptick in bookings over the summer, total sales of food and hotel rooms in the uk were almost 40 per cent lower than the same period in 2019.

With the governments job support scheme running out in october, whitbread said it had taken the the very difficult decision to enter into consultations that could result in up to 6,000 jobs being lost alongside a reduction in working hours.

The company has already undertaken a 1bn rights issue to help see it through the crisis as well as reducing capital expenditure and suspending its dividend.

Hotels have suffered acutely under coronavirus restrictions, hurt by both government curbs to hospitality businesses and the precipitous drop in international travel as a result of border closures and quarantine rules.

Whitbread, which has a largely domestic customer base, said that despite 98 per cent of its uk hotels being open by the end of august, sales in the three months up to that point were 75 per cent below last years figures.

In the six months to end of august, which includes the period of lockdown that started at the end of march in the uk, total sales for its whole estate which comprise of hotels in the uk and germany were 77 per cent below last years levels.

It said that it had seen strong demand in seaside and tourist destinations with room occupancy levels reaching almost 80 per cent in those areas but added that the rest of the market remained subdued, particularly in london and inner city areas.

Business bookings were growing, it said, from a low base.

It has been clear from the beginning of this crisis that even as restrictions are eased and hospitality businesses such as ours reopen their doors, that demand would be materially lower than [last years] levels for a period of time, said chief executive alison brittain.