The Forte empire had not run out of steam

29 March 2001
The Forte empire had not run out of steam

I appreciated Mr Pringle's confidence in the future of RF Hotels (Caterer, 15 March, page 21) but his analysis of the other facts surrounding the takeover of Forte is incorrect.

The Forte empire had not run out of steam, it had come out of the worst recession the industry has faced with record profits. It had a new management team and was poised to reap the rewards of the hard work that had taken place as the economy continued to recover.

Mr Pringle is right that the company was broad-based, but this aspect was being addressed. The catering businesses had already been divested and the restaurant businesses would have followed suit to leave Forte as a pure hotel company.

Capex was not siphoned for the mainstream operations to pump into luxury hotels. There was a clear refurbishment plan in place to cover all the hotels, which was in proportion to each sector's profit and potential expansion.

The City supported the bid because the sum offered was extremely high. The cost to Granada including debt and costs was £5.5b. I am waiting with interest to see what is realised from the current hotel sale, as it is unlikely that total disposals will exceed this figure by very much, if anything.

Far from running the business as well, Granada has not invested and allowed most of the properties to run down both in fabric and in service levels. Granada has now reverted to being a pure media company. What was the point of the whole exercise?

Whether I am enjoying what I am doing today is irrelevant, the unnecessary disruption and upheaval to the business and its employees has created nothing of value although it may have made a few operators in the City a little richer in the process.

Rocco Forte, RF Hotels, London SW1.

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