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David Michels

David Michels

Overall ranking: 30 (3)
Hotels ranking: 7 (1)

David Michels – Snapshot
David Michels has been a key player on the UK hospitality scene since the 1960s. Most notably, he rescued the Stakis hotel group from collapse, headed up the international arm of Hilton – one of the world’s best known hotel brands – and oversaw its reunification with its US parent.

Now a lone operator, David Michels is currently looking to set up a company to invest in European hotels.

David Michels – Career guide
David Michels’s career began with Grand Metropolitan Hotels where, between 1967 and 1981, he held various sales and marketing positions and rose to worldwide marketing director.

In 1981 Michels joined the Ladbroke Group as sales and marketing director of its hotels. He became managing director of the leisure division in 1983 and of the hotel division in 1985.

Two years later Michels was promoted to senior vice-president sales and marketing at Hilton International following its acquisition by Ladbroke. In 1989 Michels took on the roles of deputy chairman of Hilton UK and executive vice president of Hilton International.

In late 1991 Michels moved north to become chief executive of the Scottish-based Stakis hotel and casino group.

In 1999 he returned to Hilton International as chief executive after it bought Stakis for £1.2b and became a subsidiary of the newly-named giant called the Hilton Group. A year later, he became group chief executive of the parent company and, in 2005-2006, he oversaw the £3.1b reunification of Hilton International with Hilton Hotel Corporation of the USA after a 40-year separation.

David Michels – What we think
David Michels, who was born in 1946, has spent nearly 40 years working with the hotel heavyweights.

Perhaps his most spectacular coup was to rescue Stakis from the brink of collapse and forge it into a key player in the UK hospitality market. Shortly after Michels joined the group announced pre-tax losses of £47.4m for the year to October 1992. By 1993 this had turned into a £10.4m profit and by 1995, when Michels won a Catey Special Award, the profit had grown to £20.2m.

David Michels achieved this dramatic turn-around with the co-operation and the confidence of the staff and of the City. His prudent and canny approach to acquisitions had financiers scrambling over each other to throw money in his direction during a recessionary period when hotel investment had all but dried up. For this reason, Michels was viewed as the sector’s standard-bearer in easing the City’s purse strings.

This is even more impressive considering that Michels made the move to Stakis (against all advice) to gain the skills he felt he lacked in dealing with the City. His standing was reaffirmed when the Ladbroke Group tabled its bid for Stakis in 1999 and each company’s shares soared by 12.5% and 9.2% respectively.

Michels quickly took control of the enlarged hotel and gaming company, which became the Hilton Group. The Stakis acquisition boosted Hilton’s overall portfolio from 165 to 220 hotels in 50 countries, and more than doubled its UK presence from 37 to 91 hotels.

A focus on international expansion saw Hilton grow to more than 400 hotels in more than 70 countries to become one of the biggest groups listed on the London Stock Exchange by the time of its merger with Hilton Hotels Corporation in 2006.

David Michels was retained as a consultant to Hilton for three years but severed links with the company this year. He is now looking to raise £1bn to create a European counterpart to US real estate funds such as Starwood Capital and Strategic Hotel Investments.

Michels is president of the British Hospitality Association.

David Michels – Further Information

British Hospitality Association website

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here

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