PREMIER Inn has outlined a £35 million investment programme in Edinburgh, creating three new hotels, upgrading two existing premises and bringing 150 jobs and ten apprenticeships to the Scottish capital.
The plans include the first hi-tech “hub by Premier Inn” both in Scotland and outside London, with 121 rooms and located off the Royal Mile, and an adjacent 127-room Premier Inn, and both are set to open at the end of this month.
Another 127-room Premier Inn in York Place is to welcome its first customers in late spring.
According to the firm, “hub” is the only hotel in the world that lets guests control their room settings via Apple Watch. “Customers can use an app on Android, iPhone or Apple Watch to book, check in, customise their room or even control their smart TVs,” it said.
The Whitbread-owned business added that the trio of new hotels brings the number of Premier Inns in the city to 14, with more than 1,500 rooms.
Further investment by the budget hotel group in Edinburgh includes a £1.8m extension at Premier Inn Newcraighall and a £1.2m refurbishment at Edinburgh Central, and comes after it opened in St Andrews in October last year.
“This will take the number of hotels in Scotland to 68, which is part of Premier Inn’s expansion plan that will see the company extend its current number of bedrooms UK-wide to 85,000 by 2020,” the firm said.
Simon Ewins, chief operating officer for Premier Inn and hub, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be opening three new fantastic hotels in Edinburgh, and it is great that we are able to bring so many jobs and apprenticeships to the city.”
About half of the full and part-time year-round positions in the three new hotels have gone to those aged 16 to 24 and long-term unemployed, Premier Inn said.
The latest hotels, off the Royal Mile on New Market Street, are two of the three planned under the £150m New Waverley regeneration project, collectively delivering about 400 bedrooms. The third is a 146-apartment Adagio Aparthotel.
Clive Wilding, project director for New Waverley, said the two Premier Inn hotels opening “marks an exciting turning-point for the regeneration of this historic part of Edinburgh’s Old Town” and said the move is “breathing new life into what has been a neglected part of Edinburgh’s historic city centre”.
Manuela Calchini, regional director at VisitScotland, said the new hotels will be an “exciting and welcome addition to the city’s strong line-up of high quality accommodation-providers”.
She added: “It is also appropriate that our digital-savvy visitors will be able to experience the first hub by Premier Inn outside of London in our beautiful capital, during Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”
Whitbread, which also owns Costa Coffee, is set to post an update on Thursday and is expected to be buoyed by the strength of the two businesses.
However, analysts at Numis said that it sees consensus forecasts for the group’s next financial year as having “softened a little, reflecting tougher conditions for Premier Inn, most notably in London, and softer trading at Costa”.
Numis added that it has cut its pre-tax profit forecast for the coming 12 months “marginally” to £598m from £609m.
In December, Whitbread said it expected to post yearly results in line with market expectations, reporting a 10.4 per cent year-on-year jump in total group sales in the 13 weeks to 26 November.