Transcorp Hilton reduces staff by 40 per cent over COVID-19 losses

The management of Transcorp Hotels, operators of the popular Transcorp Hilton Abuja, has said in order to meet its business obligations, about 40 per cent of the company employees will have to go.

The Managing Director of the hospitality firm, Mrs Dupe Olusola, told newsmen on Thursday that its operations have been badly affected by the coronavirus disease and to remain in business, this tough decision has to be taken.

She said all executives of Transcorp Hilton Abuja have now taken a pay cut and that another action the management is taking is to restructure the company’s business operations.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the business is like nothing the company has ever witnessed.

“The hotel and hospitality industry in Nigeria has never faced a crisis that brought travel to a standstill, including the Ebola Virus outbreak of 2014 and the recession of 2015.

“The slow pick up of international travel, restriction on large gatherings, the switch to virtual meetings and fear of the virus, has drastically reduced demand for our hotels and occupancy levels to its lowest of less than 5 per cent,” Mrs Olusola said.

“To this end, our workforce headcount will be reduced by at least 40 per cent, and our reward system will be optimised,” she declared.

Many companies have continued to be affected by the contagion and in the second quarter of this year, the Nigerian economy contracted by 6.1 per cent and from the look of things, another recession is expected in the third quarter. It will be the second in over four years.

According to industry analysis, the novel COVID-19 pandemic has caused the African hotel and tourism sector to lose over $50 billion in revenue.

Amidst this, Transcorp Hotels, which trades its shares on the local exchange, has suffered unprecedented losses and is looking to restructure the business strategy of its hotels and optimize its operations. The company’s stocks have remained flat at N4 at the Lagos bourse for weeks.

In order to make up for the losses to COVID-19 and ensure business continuity, the management is diversifying its portfolio and embarked on some cost-optimisation strategies.

“We [have] activated various cost-saving initiatives such as renegotiations of service contracts and restructuring of our loans.

“We suspended further commitment to buy fixed assets and operating equipment as well as reducing our energy consumption and maintenance costs.

“Despite undertaking these, it has become apparent that more fundamental changes need to be made for the business to survive,” she said.

Also, the company’s head said negotiations with members of staff to be laid off in the downsizing exercise are ongoing and that a health insurance package to reduce their health burden costs and other payment settlements are being discussed.

But she said, “Despite the losses incurred, we have fulfilled our obligations to staff,” adding that, “At the inception of the pandemic, we maintained a 100 per cent salary payment to our over 900 employees in March and April.”

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