Hotel chain expansion plans boost jobs

BUDGET hotel chain Travelodge is set to create around 200 jobs across Suffolk and Essex as part of ambitious plans to expand its national network.

By Sarah Chambers

BUDGET hotel chain Travelodge is set to create around 200 jobs across Suffolk and Essex as part of ambitious plans to expand its national network.

The company plans to create around eight new hotels in the two counties and add 750 new rooms to its portfolio, both through the new hotels and through expanding its existing hotels.

It has earmarked areas including Bury St Edmunds, Harwich, Ipswich Central, Lowestoft, Maldon and Newmarket.

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In Bury St Edmunds, it says it is in early discussions on two potential sites, and in Ipswich, it is also in early talks on a town centre position.

A site is set to open outside of town in 2008 in Chelmsford, and it is seeking another town centre site there.

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It also plans to expand in Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Rayleigh, Sittingbourne and Waltham Abbey.

In Braintree, there are early talks on an out-of-town site and in Brentwood it is discussing a retail site.

In the other towns, it is still looking for suitable sites.

Nationally, the chain is set to create 10,000 new jobs under a huge investment programme over the next decade, it announced yesterday .

The company will open around 40 new hotels every year until 2020, targeting a 10% share of the hotel market, and will be investing £3.5million in new hotels.

Chief executive Grant Hearn said the company and other budget hotel companies had seen a huge increase in visitor numbers.

Across the east of England, it plans to create 2,000 rooms by the year 2020, and 700 jobs, doubling its accommodation.

The major area of focus in the region is Norfolk, which is expected to see a boost of around 700 rooms.

Paul Harvey, Travelodge director of property and development, said: “The major increases in visitor numbers to the east of England are no surprise to us. The combination of strong tourist attractions such as the Pleasure Beach at Great Yarmouth and award-winning beaches is encouraging millions of visitors to the area.

“The acceleration of our growth plans is extremely exciting as it enables us to capitalise on the rise in both domestic and international visits to the UK. As a management team we have a great deal of experience of opening many hotels each year and we have strengthened our property division further to achieve these new goals.”

Travelodge believes around two thirds of new hotels will be through organic growth but the rest will come from regenerating existing UK hotel stock.

The budget chain's development team has been working on adapting its hotel format, meaning office buildings, factories and mills, and existing hotels can be converted to a Travelodge hotel in minimal time.

“There is no doubt that the UK hotel industry will see a major phase of regeneration over the next decade,” said Mr Harvey.

“The mid market hotels are suffering from severe identity crisis as they no longer offer real value to the customer.

“As the more mature hotel markets in the US and France have seen, the branded budget sector will dominate the industry, attracting most of the mass market.”

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