Travelodge makes more out of business than leisure visitors

The Gherkin office building in London Image copyright PA wire
Image caption Travelodge plans to open a new hotel in the City of London in 2018

Following a £100m modernisation programme, budget hotel chain Travelodge is now attracting more custom from business than leisure visitors for the first time.

The firm says it will open 60 hotels over the next three years, including one in central London.

In 2012, the chain was bought by two US hedge funds after its debts nearly dragged the company under.

Operating profits for 2016 are up £5m to £110m.

"This year just gone, we've overtaken [revenue from] leisure customers with business customers for the first time... since our restructuring," said Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers.

"Historically, our mix tended to be about 55% leisure, 45% business. Since the investment in quality, we've had a lot more success at winning over not just small businesses, which you might expect, but also around half the FTSE 100 use Travelodge in some way, shape or form."

Room for expansion

Travelodge has started work on a new hotel in the City of London, near the landmark office building known colloquially as "the Gherkin". It is expected to open in 2018.

Mr Gowers said he believed there was room for further expansion, because while in the UK, about one in five hotels is a branded budget hotel, whereas in the US, the figure is one in three and in France, it is one in four.

Goldman Sachs, Avenue Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management, the firms that took control of Travelodge in 2012, were not expected to hold on to the company long-term after its restructuring.

Mr Gowers, who became chief executive in 2013, said that the firm's "current shareholders are not natural long-term holders of a hotel business". But he gave no indication that any change of ownership was currently under consideration.

Travelodge operates more than 500 hotels in the UK, Ireland and Spain.

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