Unite to protest job cuts at Whitbread AGM

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Unite to protest job cuts at Whitbread AGM as hospitality group reports a ‘strengthening trading performance’ in the UK

Related tags Whitbread Unite union Casual dining Multi-site Staff Redundancy

Unite is to stage a demonstration at the Whitbread AGM in Dunstable today (18 June) over plans to cut 1,500 job.

The union has accused Whitbread, whose portfolio includes the Bar + Block, Brewers Fayre and Beefeater casual dining brands, as well as the Premier Inn hotel chain, of failing to carry out a proper redundancy consultation process and threatened to launch employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal​​.

It comes after the group announced in April that some 1,500 roles across its UK workforce would be shed​​ as part of an ‘accelerating growth plan’ (AGP)​ that will see it exit 126 sites from its branded restaurant estate and convert a further 112 into new hotel rooms.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will be holding [Whitbread] to account for its disgraceful race to the bottom behaviour and offering full support to our members impacted by these cruel and unnecessary redundancy plans.”

Last week, Whitbread pushed back against Unite’s allegations​ that it had failed to consult with staff facing redundancy in a ‘genuine or meaningful way’, and insisted it has a ‘comprehensive and transparent collective consultation process’ and is ‘engaging directly with elected representatives and the individuals potentially impacted’.

“We do not accept these allegations,” a spokesperson for Whitbread told Restaurant​ at the time.

“The consultation process is still ongoing and as part of this we are seeking to find alternative opportunities wherever possible through the roles created by this programme and our existing recruitment process that makes c.15,000 hires each year.

“We expect to retain a significant proportion of those who wish to remain with us and are providing dedicated support to our teams.”

AGP ‘on track to deliver long-term profitable growth’

Unite’s planned protest comes as Whitbread reports a ‘strengthening trading performance’ in the UK in its Q1 trading update.

Total sales, which also encompasses the group’s business in Germany, grew 1% to £739m in the 13 weeks to 30 May 2024 when compared to the same period last year.

However, while accommodation sales in the UK were in line with last year and remain ‘ahead of the market’, F&B sales were down 1%.

The group says strong breakfast sales driven by high occupancy in its hotels were offset by ‘softer trading’ in a number of its branded restaurants.

"Our accelerating growth plan to optimise F&B at a number of sites and add 3,500 rooms to our UK pipeline is on track and will increase our momentum to deliver long-term profitable growth,” says Dominic Paul, Whitbread chief executive.

“With significant potential in both the UK and Germany, supported by the structural reduction in supply and our asset-backed balance sheet, our strategic plans are set to deliver a step change in our performance."

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