Premier Inn owner Whitbread has blamed “weaker business confidence” and “political and economic uncertainty” for a decline in UK accommodation sales.

The budget hotel brand saw UK sales fall 1.5 per cent in the first quarter of its financial year due to “weak market conditions”. This fall was even larger at 4.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Whitbread said that while London “continues to be a good long-term market with strong demand and high occupancy levels”, the UK regional market is being impacted “to a greater extent” by declining business confidence with “weak short-lead business bookings”.

Alison Brittain, Whitbread’s chief executive, said: ““We have delivered a resilient performance in the first quarter despite more challenging market conditions and we continue to make good progress with our efficiency programme, which is helping to partially offset another year of high industry cost inflation.

“While we are cautious about short-term market conditions, we are confident in our plans, given the significant growth opportunities in the UK and internationally.

“Given our strong balance sheet, efficiency programme and robust business model, we are in a strong position and we will continue to invest in order to maintain Premier Inn’s competitive advantages and to capitalise on our structural growth opportunities.”

In the UK, the hotel chain added 282 new rooms in the quarter and will add another 3,000 to 3,500 rooms over the next nine months. Premier Inn is due to open its latest property in the Isle of Man on 24 June.

Premier Inn’s UK properties, which account for a total of 76,835 rooms, had an occupancy rate of 74.8 per cent during the quarter – down by 2.3 percentage points year-on-while. Average room rate was down by 3.4 per cent to £61.45.

Premier Inn is also currently expanding in Germany with a new hotel in Hamburg and plans to rebrand 13 Foremost Hospitality properties into Premier Inns next year.

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