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Travelodge to open 44 new sites in 2008

Budget hotel chain Travelodge said today it would double the number of new hotels opened this year as annual revenues rose 20 per cent.

The group - which operates 330 sites including a new 297-room hotel near Heathrow's Terminal 5 - said it was preparing to open 44 UK sites during 2008, compared to 23 last year.

Revenues in London soared by 32 per cent in 2007 to help overall turnover rise to £243.8 million for the year, with underlying earnings up 30 per cent to £55.8 million.

News of the revenues hike follows weekend reports speculating that Travelodge is in talks with Premier Inn owner Whitbread to create a £3 billion budget hotel giant.

Travelodge declined to comment on the merger rumours, but gave a positive outlook for its prospects over the year ahead.

The group said 2008 trading so far was "very strong", adding that it was 24 hotels were currently under construction across the UK, with planning secured for another 39 premises.

Chief executive Grant Hearn said Travelodge's performance last year had been "outstanding" and claimed that the firm had taken market share from bed and breakfasts as well as mid and upmarket hotels.

He said: "We are perfectly positioned to accelerate our stated growth plans in the UK and international markets and we are looking forward to hitting record customer numbers for 2008."

In addition to its UK hotels, the firm also has nine in Ireland and three in Spain.

Among the sites for the 24 hotels under construction are London Euston, Blackpool South Shore, Glasgow Braehead and Birmingham Newhall Square.