Whitbread and Wetherspoon's to axe 6,400 jobs as coronavirus pandemic hits trade

Tim Martin of Wetherspoon'sTim Martin of Wetherspoon's
Tim Martin of Wetherspoon's
Up to 6,000 jobs are being axed at Premier Inn owner Whitbread as the group warned the coronavirus crisis will continue to hammer demand.

The group said the cuts would impact 18 per cent of the total workforce across its hotel and restaurant brands, which also includes the Beefeater pubs and Brewers Fayre chains.

It is hoping a “significant proportion” of the job cuts will be made through voluntary redundancy and lowered contracted hours for some staff.

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Meanwhile pub chain Wetherspoon has announced plans that could see it cut up to half of its jobs at pubs in six UK airports.

Whitbread owns the Premier Inn brandWhitbread owns the Premier Inn brand
Whitbread owns the Premier Inn brand

The company said it had written to its 1,000 airport staff to warn them that between 400 and 450 of their jobs are at risk of redundancy.

The job cuts will take place at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.

The news comes as the Government is expected to announce a 10pm curfew on British pubs to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely announce the curfew, to start on Thursday night, later on Tuesday.

It marks a major new policy direction after ministers encouraged customers back into Britain’s pubs and restaurants through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August.

Wetherspoon’s shares had been trading down slightly on the news on Tuesday morning, however they spiked to 1.3 per cent up after the job cuts announcement.

Speaking on Sky News, Wetherspoon's chief Tim Martin said the Government "hadn't got a clue" how to tackle the virus.

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He said its policy was going "from pillar to post" and it was unclear on what evidence the decision-making about pubs and restaurants was being made.

Mr Martin said the hospitality industry had been very responsible during the pandemic and thousands of jobs were at risk

He called for Parliament to scrutinise the coronavirus restrictions and ask searching questions.

Experts have warned that thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector are still at risk as the Government’s furlough scheme is set to come to a close before November.

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It means that employers who are not doing well enough to bring their staff back to work will likely be considering whether to announce redundancies.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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