1st October 2003

Travelodge, the UK's leading lodge brand, today publicly confirmed its interest in acquiring Premier Lodge from the successful purchaser of Scottish & Newcastle’s pub and hotel business.

Over the past month Travelodge has been in talks with all three bidding groups and has received an encouraging response. Grant Hearn, Travelodge chief executive, believes that a deal can be struck, giving Travelodge the largest estate in the UK.

He said: “Travelodge is the leading brand in the lodge sector and the Premier Lodge estate is a more logical fit with our network than with any other possible purchaser. We have had lengthy discussions with the three bidding groups and are in a prime position to negotiate once a deal with S&N has been agreed.”

In response to reports that Whitbread is prepared to pay up to £500m for Premier Lodge, Hearn said:" Whitbread is certainly talking big numbers, but its shareholders will be focusing very hard on any offer, with widespread belief that it has overspent on recent ventures such as Café Rouge, Swallow Hotels and indeed Bella Pasta. These deals have since received a certain amount of criticism, something which I'm sure Whitbread's investors will be keen not to repeat again."

For more information, please contact:
Liz Ramm, Emma Thompson or Brandon Stockwell on 020 7331 5400