UPDATE 1-UK hotel group sees Brexit-led hiring problems

() – Millennium & Copthorne Hotels said uncertainty around Brexit had hurt its operations as it was finding it difficult to hire workers from the European Union for its London properties, where they currently account for half of the workforce. The operator of the Millennium, Grand Millennium, Copthorne and Kingsgate hotels also warned that 2019 would be a challenging year as renovations at its larger hotels were under way. “The hospitality industry faced a range of geo-political and global economic headwinds in 2018, many of which look set to continue in the current year, including US/China trade relations, Brexit and increasing minimum wage levels in many jurisdictions,” Chairman Kwek Leng Beng said in a statement. In addition to intense competition from holiday home rental start-ups such as Airbnb, Millennium & Copthorne said rising labour costs and sluggish demand stemming from Brexit added to pressures. The company said London performance was also affected by the partial closure of the Millennium Hotel London Mayfair for refurbishment in 2018. Full-year reported revenue per available room – a key hotel industry metric – fell to 81.57 pounds in the twelve months ended Dec.31 from 82.78 pounds a year earlier. The company did not provide an update on the appointment of a permanent chief executive officer after the sudden departure of industry veteran Jennifer Fox in September last year. Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Noor Zainab Hussain in BengaluruOur Standards:The Thomson Trust Principles.