Premier’s fate in doubt as rival closes in

The future of Premier Lodge brand director Nick Read and his team is in doubt as rival Travel Inn gets set to buy the low-cost hotel chain.

Whitbread, Travel Inn’s parent company, is in exclusive talks to buy Premier Lodge from owner Spirit Group for a price believed to be close to £560m.

Spirit picked up Premier Lodge as part of its £2.5bn acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle’s pub and restaurant business and has always indicated that it wants to sell the chain.

It is understood that Travel Inn, the UK’s leading low-cost hotel chain, will axe the Premier Lodge brand if its takeover bid is successful. It will rebrand the chain’s 140 hotels to add to its own stock of 440 premises.

Premier Lodge spent £1.25m on advertising in the year to March, according to Nielsen Media Research. Its last advertising campaign was handled by Magnet Harlequin.

Read is a former Travel Inn marketing manager and joined Scottish & Newcastle in 2000 when the company bought Greenalls’ 22-strong Premier Inns & Lodges chain. The acquisition was used as the launchpad for the Premier Lodge brand.

Travel Inn’s marketing department is headed by marketing director Gill Baker and the company is in the middle of an advertising agency review.

Whitbread also operates the franchise for the four-star Marriott hotel brand in the UK.

Travelodge, the UK’s second-biggest low-cost hotel operator, recently recruited former Travel Inn marketing director Guy Parsons to replace its marketing chief, Simon Gregory (MW July 10).

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