PREMIER Inn owner Whitbread has cut 1,500 jobs and thousands more staff have been asked to reduce their hours after the Covid-19 pandemic hit sales and profits.

The group – which owns Premier Inns locally in Chippenham, Marlborough, Swindon and Trowbridge - revealed third-quarter sales across its hotels and restaurants more than halved as coronavirus restrictions forced swathes of its estate to close.

The group has axed around 1,500 jobs to cut costs but said this was far less than the 6,000 redundancies initially feared thanks to more workers agreeing to reduce their hours.

It is not yet known how many of the jobs being lost will be in Wiltshire.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “We expect the current travel restrictions in the UK and Germany to remain until at the very least the end of our financial year.

“With the vaccination programme under way, we look forward to the potential gradual relaxation of restrictions from the spring, business and leisure confidence returning, and our market recovering over the rest of the year.”

The group, which also owns chains including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, said like-for-like UK accommodation sales tumbled 56 per cent in the 13 weeks to November 26.

But it said accommodation sales slumped as much as 66.4 per cent in the five weeks to December 31 as restrictions tightened, with total UK sales down 73.4 per cent.