October 1, 2018 / 7:37 PM / 8 months ago

Whitbread scraps post of operations manager at its Premier Inns

FILE PHOTO: Signage for Premier Inn is seen on the outside of one of their hotels in London, Britain, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

(Reuters) - Britain’s Whitbread Plc (WTB.L) said on Monday it would restructure management at its Premier Inn hotel chain, eliminating the post of operations manager at each of its nearly 800 hotels.

Whitbread will create new assistant manager and hotel manager posts. Those now employed as operations managers would either be laid off or put in charge of multiple sites instead of just one, a source with direct knowledge of the plans told Reuters.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on whether jobs would be lost.

“We are consulting directly with the individuals impacted by these proposed changes and will endeavour to match people with the new positions, as well as existing vacancies in our restaurants business, wherever possible,” the company said.

The proposal, which has to go through a 45-day consultation period, is aimed at cutting costs, the source said. Whitbread employees were told about the plans on Monday.

Whitbread said in a statement that the proposed changes would help it deliver its growth plans and create 1,700 new jobs across Britain by investing around 300 million pounds in 42 new hotel and restaurant openings over the next year.

Founded 276 years ago as a brewery, Whitbread is one of Britain’s oldest companies that grew into a sprawling business with pubs and restaurants, as well as its Costa chain of coffee shops and beer operations.

In August, Whitbread agreed to sell its almost 4,000 Costa coffee shops to Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) for $5.1 billion after pressure from hedge funds, including activist investor Elliott, which said the coffee chain was held back by being grouped with the Premier Inn hotel chain.

Elliott, Whitbread’s single largest shareholder, was not available to comment on Whitbread’s latest plans.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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