Whitbread slows hotel expansion
Whitbread, the leisure conglomerate behind the fast-growing budget hotel chain Premier Inn, has slashed its expansion budget for new hotels next year by a third, despite figures showing the business continues to benefit as business travellers trade down from four-star rivals. "We have been reviewing our future development plans as the macro-economic situation has become increasingly challenging," said Whitbread's chief executive, Alan Parker. "Although we remain committed to growing the business, we have decided to limit our capital expenditure next year to about £200m compared to about £300m in 2008-09." The company still plans to deliver at least 4,000 new Premier Inn rooms during the year to February 28, up 18% on the previous year. But thereafter it will focus on "selected new high-returning projects" and on "maintaining a land bank".