JD Wetherspoon to open budget hotels

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is spending 4m to buy and develop two budget hotels as it comes under pressure from the City to diversify its interests.

Wetherspoon’s, which runs a chain of about 240 pubs, will call its budget hotels “Wetherlodges”. Both will open in the next six months.

The first will open in Shrewsbury in September and be called The Shrewsbury Hotel. The second will open in November in Glen Rothes, Scotland. Both sites will have Wetherspoon pubs attached to them.

The Shrewsbury site has 22 rooms, priced at 30 to 35 a night. Both hotels will target families on weekend breaks or business people on overnight stays.

A spokesman for Wetherspoon’s says the company will see how these two hotels progress before deciding whether to open more lodges.

The Wetherspoon hotels will compete against budget hotels run by Whitbread and Granada, which operate the Travel Inn and Travel Lodge brands respectively.

Wetherspoon’s plans to open 50 more outlets in the second half of this year. However, City analysts are scaling back profit forecasts for the company amid fears that its pub roll-out is reaching saturation point.

Stuart Forshaw, brewery analyst at Charterhouse Tilney, says: “It is a one-legged stool, and these have a habit of falling over.”

A Wetherspoon’s spokesman says the move into hotels is not a response to pressure from the City.

News Analysis, page 21

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