Premier Inn owner Whitbread has said it will axe around 1,500 jobs across the UK.

This comes as it plans to cut down its chain of branded restaurants by more than 200 as it looks to build more hotel rooms.

The group, which owns restaurants including Brewers Fayre and Beefeater, said the job cuts are still subject to consultation and come from its total UK workforce of 37,000 employees.

The move is part of a plan to “optimise” its food and drink offering and to add more than 3,500 hotel rooms across its estate and increase “operational efficiencies”, it said.

Whitbread plans to sell 126 of its less profitable branded restaurants and 21 of these sales have already gone through.

112 restaurants will be converted into new hotel rooms.

Dominic Paul, Whitbread chief executive, said: “We recognise that our transition will impact some of our team members so we will be providing support throughout this process and we are committed to working hard to enable as many as possible of those affected to remain with us.”

The FTSE 100 company announced pre-tax profit of £452 million for the year ending February 29, up 21% on the year before.

However, its restaurants and pubs division, which also includes Bar+Block and Table Table, lagged behind.

Job cut decisions "are never easy" says Whitbread chief executive

The company’s total food and beverage sales were up only 7% year on year, driven mainly by breakfasts in the restaurant chain.

For the most recent period on record (the seven weeks to April 18), food and beverage sales were down 2%.

Over the next three years, Whitbread said the cost-cutting programme will save about £150 million.

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The company also said it will offer a £150 million stock buy-back to shareholders in the next six months and increase dividend payments by 26% this year.

Mr Paul said the company’s financial performance was “really excellent” and that the Premier Inn hotel brand was the “driving force” behind the results.

Referring to the job cuts, he added: “Decisions like this are never easy, but this will make us a stronger and better business in the future.”