Whitbread, the company which owns Premier Inn and Beefeater restaurants, has warned that 6,000 members of staff could lose their jobs following the impact of coronavirus.

Although the company said it is hoping to avoid compulsory redundancies, it said the loss of hotel guests during lockdown, as well as the upcoming end of the Government furlough scheme, has forced it to make severe cuts across the business.

It is believed that the company still has more than 27,000 members of staff on the furlough scheme.

Whitbread said visits to hotels had halved in August, with the number of diners falling by even more, despite being helped by the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

Whitbread chief executive, Alison Brittain, said: “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.”

The company revealed that it is expecting to see demand fall into 2021 and possibly into 2022, having already lost more than three-quarters of sales in the first half of the year as a result of the virus.