SHARES in Ireland's biggest hotel operator, Dalata, sank more than 6pc yesterday after it warned it has experienced a sharp decline in bookings and cancellations as the coronavirus spreads.
The group operates almost 9,000 owned and leased rooms across about 30 hotels in Ireland and the UK. It owns the Clayton and Maldron brands.
When it released full-year results on February 25, Dalata said that it had seen no material reduction in demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
"We have since observed a significant reduction in bookings and a significant increase in cancellations following the spread of Covid-19 to Europe, in particular the spread of the virus to northern Italy and from there to the UK and Ireland," the group said yesterday, as the virus continues to exact a heavy toll on the travel and leisure sectors.
It added: "The extent of the impact of Covid-19, the rate at which the virus spreads, and the period for which it continues cannot be predicted at this time. It is therefore too early to estimate the financial impact on the group; we will provide a further update as the situation develops."
CEO Pat McCann said that Dalata's decentralised operating model had enabled it to respond "quickly and effectively as this situation evolves".
"Our primary concern is the health and well-being of our people and our guests," he said. "We are implementing additional procedures and following the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation."
Mr McCann said Dalata's lowly geared, asset-backed balance sheet, together with the group's experience in reacting to "crisis scenarios", would give it the resilience to manage the impact of the virus outbreak.