Premier Inn pushes ahead

Whitbread continues to grow its Premier Inn brand in its home UK market, while adding a presence in Ireland, and pushing on with expansion in Germany, where it has a strong pipeline of openings

Whitbread, owner of the Premier Inn and Hub hotel brands, has revealed it added eleven hotels to its UK and Ireland portfolio during its most recent financial year, ending February 2024. 

The openings come as the group continues to launch and sign up additional developments in the UK and Ireland, and also in Germany where it is expanding its market presence too. In the UK, it has a medium term target of growing to 125,000 rooms from its current scale of just over 83,500 rooms. 

In Germany, Whitbread is keeping up a keen expansion pace, in a market that it only recently entered. At the end of January 2024, it opened three hotels in four days, adding Premier Inn Lindau, Munich and Cologne. With the new additions, it now operates 56 hotels in Germany, with a further 36 more in the development pipeline. 

Growing in Ireland

Among 2023 additions were three hotels in Dublin and one in Cork, as the group expanded its Irish market presence to six hotels. In London, it added sites in Camden Town, Marylebone and Hammersmith. Around the UK, additions included Birmingham Exchange Square, Cardiff Stadium and Abingdon. And in Swindon, the company launched its first electric-only hotel, a working property destined to test out zero carbon ways of running hotels for the future. 

Whitbread uses a variety of routes to market, to grow its hotel portfolio in its key target markets, buying development sites as well as agreeing leases with investment partners. It also churns its estate, disposing of older, smaller properties and often working with planning authorities on reuse, to extract maximum value from site sales. 

Typical of its UK site acquisitions was the September 2023 purchase of a central London office building, for conversion to a hotel. The GBP56.5m acquisition dates from the 1970s and will be extensively remodelled to create a hotel situated conveniently next to Fenchurch Street station. In December, the group acquired a site in Dublin, where it will seek permission for a 150 room hotel. 

In Norwich, the group is working up plans for a new Premier Inn on a riverside site in the city centre. The same month, Whitbread won consent for its fourth Premier Inn in Leeds city centre. In February 2024, it bought sites in Cork and Manchester for development, with the Manchester site having consent for a hotel already in place. 

German expansion

Meanwhile, in Germany the group has recently hired a new country CEO as it moves to accelerate its growth pace. Openings in the coming months include a hotel in Lubeck, with a 203 room property due to be completed close to the city’s main rail station. In Berlin-Köpenick, a 157 room Premier Inn is in construction on a site purchased by Whitbread, and expected to be ready for launch in 2025. 

Among upcoming Premier Inn projects in Germany are a new build hotel in Bremerhaven. Work is starting shortly on the 115 room new build, with LIST Develop leading the 18 month construction of the hotel. In Halle, GP Günter Papenburg group is building a 113 room Premier Inn, expected to be ready for opening in 2026. Also expected to open in 2026 is a Premier Inn at Frankfurt Airport, where development of a 198 room hotel is under way following site acquisition in 2023.