Whitbread has vowed to continue to search for hotel acquisition opportunities after completing a £44m deal to buy Golden Tulip last week.
The deal, first revealed on Caterer‘s Kitchen Rat blog on 14 September, sees the company taking on six hotels and, with nine further sites due to open in the next two years, ultimately 2,000 additional rooms for its Premier Travel Inn (PTI) business.
Whitbread will spend a further £9m converting the 15 Golden Tulip hotels to Premier Inn - PTI's new name as of next month. The existing hotels will be converted by the end of the year.
Alan Parker, Whitbread chief executive, said the deal marked a new phase in the company's hotel strategy. "We have had three outstanding years of revenue growth, but that doesn't continue forever," he told Caterer. "We are now looking to buy more bedrooms as we look to hit our target of 45,000 new rooms by 2010."
The instability in the global financial markets will not deter Whitbread from looking at further opportunities, according to Parker. "We are a very well-funded business," he said. "If and when there is a good opportunity to buy a business that can be easily converted to Premier Inn we will certainly look at it."
Parker said Whitbread was in discussion the Golden Tulip senior management team about absorbing them into the new business. He also vowed to absorb as many Golden Tulip employees as possible.
Golden Tulip UK was backed by private-equity firm Graphite Capital and Barclays Bank. Under the terms of the deal, Graphite's franchise arrangements with Golden Tulip Worldwide have been terminated.
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