May 14, 2020 / 6:08 PM / 15 days ago

NH Hotels first-quarter loss widens sharply after coronavirus forces closures

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s NH Hotels Group (NHH.MC) on Thursday said its net loss nearly quadrupled in the first quarter from a year earlier after the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of many of its hotels.

The Madrid-based group reported a net loss of 57.2 million euros ($61.67 million) compared with 14.7 million euros a year earlier. Revenue slipped 21% to 276.9 million euros.

After Spain declared a state of emergency on March 14 in response to a coronavirus outbreak, hotels and other tourist accommodation were shut and borders closed as the government banned non-essential travel. Airlines also cancelled flights

The company began closing hotels in Italy and Spain in mid-March, followed by its properties in northern Europe and culminating with about 95% of its 362-hotel network shut by the beginning of April.

The group expects the second quarter to be the worst affected period but did not provide specific guidance.

Despite a lack of visibility on the economic outlook, NH said it expects any recovery to be driven at first by domestic demand, adding that its booking systems have been open since May.

“The reopening of hotels will be progressive based on demand, optimizing profitability and redefining standards to ensure health, safety and social distancing,” the company said.

Since February the group has been rolling out a plan to cut costs and preserve liquidity and has drawn down 275 million euros in various credit lines.

Net financial debt rose to 254 million euros at the end of March from 179 million euros at the end of December.

Rival Spanish hotel chain Melia (MEL.MC) reported similarly gloomy results last week.

($1 = 0.9276 euros)

Reporting by Nathan Allen, editing by Andrei Khalip, Kirsten Donovan

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