Whitbread's hopes of winning the auction of the Jurys Inn chain suffered a setback yesterday on rumours that the bidding had soared well above the widely mooted €1bn (£680m) target price set by the Dublin-based Jurys Doyle Hotel Group. The Times

Whitbread, which this week announced strong trading in its Premier Travel Inn chain, is still thought to be eyeing the hotel group, alongside Permira, which owns Principal Hotels, Robert Tchenguiz’s Piccadilly Hotels and an Irish consortium that includes John Magnier and J P McManus.

However, the level of the bidding has prompted analysts to play down Whitbread’s chances of success.