In an interview with The Times newspaper Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker said he might be interested in buying rival Travelodge if its owners Dubai International Capital put it up for sale.
The debt-laden private equity firm is currently restructuring its British asset portfolio. Mr Parker, who will retire in November, said he led abortive talks to buy Travelodge two years ago. He confirmed Premier Inn would not rely on consolidation to expand. The group opened four hotels in the last financial year, taking its UK total to 587. It has a further 2,500 rooms in the pipeline this year and has five hotels overseas, in Dubai, India and Ireland.