Vienna eyes four more properties

01 January 2000
Vienna eyes four more properties

By Andrew Sangster

Vienna Group Holdings, the London-based company that operates hotels and apartments, is poised to take on up to four new properties.

Chairman Peter Lowy told Caterer he was looking at four projects, including an office conversion. "We hope to exchange on a 40-bedroom property by the end of the month," he added.

The most recent acquisition was the 105-bedroom Burns Park in Kensington, London, bought at the beginning of this year for about £7m by Middle Eastern investors. It is operated on a 25-year lease by Vienna.

This three-star standard property, now renamed the Vienna Burns Hotel, is the group's first hotel venture outside its Bayswater heartland.

The privately-owned company is this year celebrating 25 years in the business, having started with a converted YMCA. Today the group has four divisions, including the four-strong hotels wing and the eight-strong serviced-apartment business, Westminster Apartment Services.

Mr Lowy said he was keen to keep developing his budget hotel operation, a third division, because this sector was under-represented in the capital. However, the high cost of London property makes two- and three-star hotels more viable.

There are currently three budget properties and these dovetail with Vienna's fourth division - its educational services operation, Anglo-American.

The recession was tough for the group, and it racked up a succession of six-figure losses. The gloom has now lifted, however, and in the year ending 31 October 1996 sales climbed 8% to £13.7m. Pre-tax profits were £134,000, down slightly on 1995 when they were £242,000.

To exploit the recovery, the group has reorganised, slashing its head office operation and relocating resources at individual properties. In 1996, £550,000 was invested in refurbishment projects.

In the current financial year, trading looks strong. Rooms-yield to date is 9% ahead of the same period last year.

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