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Premier Inn-owner cuts 1,500 jobs compared with 6,000 expected earlier

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The signage of a Premier Inn Hotel is seen in Liverpool City Centre after the chain announced job cuts nationwide, in Liverpool

(Reuters) - Premier Inn-owner Whitbread said on Thursday it had completed the restructuring of its hotel and restaurant operations, leading to around 1,500 job cuts, much lower than the 6,000 it had expected.

The owner of the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block chains said total UK accommodation sales were down 55.2% for the 13 weeks that ended on Nov. 26.

Whitbread also said it achieved targeted cost savings as more employees accepted a cut in maximum contracted hours.

The company had projected 6,000 job losses in September last year but had later said in November that it saw significantly fewer job cuts than expected.

"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 underway, we look forward to the potential gradual relaxation of restrictions from the Spring," Chief Executive Officer Alison Brittain said.

Following some local restrictions on hospitality in the run-up to Christmas, England went into a new nationwide lockdown last week, as it struggles to curb surging cases of COVID-19 and its new variant.

Whitbread said that around two-third of its total hotels remain open, while all its restaurants are closed.

The company now expects investment in its German expansion plans and COVID-19 curbs to delay the sales maturity of its operating hotels by 12-18 months while saying that losses will increase in fiscal 2022 and continue into 2023.

The recent acquisition of 13 hotels from the Centro Group will result in a loss in Germany next year of around 10 million pounds ($13.64 million) while the sites are being refurbished, Whitbread said.

($1 = 0.7330 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)