Overall ranking: 74 (33)
Hoteliers ranking: 18 (11)
John Jarvis – Snapshot
John Jarvis is the chairman of one of the UK’s largest independent hotel groups, Jarvis Hotels, which he founded in 1990 with the purchase of 41 hotels from Allied Lyons. Since 2001, he has rebranded the estate under the Ramada, Ramada Plaza and Ramada Resort brands following a deal with Marriott International.
John Jarvis – Career guide
Born in Yorkshire in 1943, John Jarvis was brought up in hotels managed by his parents – although this background was not reflected in his first job as a beach photographer in Torquay.
Jarvis started his career in hospitality as a commis chef at the Savoy Group’s Berkeley hotel in London in 1963 before moving to the Rank Organisation in 1965, where he was promoted to the role of operations controller for its entertainment and catering divisions.
In 1975 Jarvis joined the Ladbroke Group and quickly rose to become chairman of its hotels, holidays and entertainment division in 1978. He spearheaded Ladbroke’s acquisition of Hilton International in 1987 and was rewarded with the leading role of chairman, president and chief executive of the enlarged group.
He left to create Jarvis Hotels in 1990.
John Jarvis – What we think
For nearly 30 years, John Jarvis has been at the helm of not just one but three of the UK’s largest hotel groups, all of which expanded significantly and successfully under his leadership. He is widely respected by his peers for his down-to-earth approach, his capacity for hard work, and his approachable and accessible leadership.
His ability to build up a brand from almost nothing emerged at Ladbroke’s, where he expanded its hotel portfolio from just four UK sites to more than 63 properties across the UK and Europe in the seven years from 1978 to 1985. The next two years brought a slight change of direction for Jarvis – as chairman of Ladbroke’s retail division following its 1985 acquisition of Texas Homecare.
Then, in what could have been the crowning glory of any career, Jarvis led Ladbroke’s acquisition of Hilton International, the world’s number one hotel chain with 142 properties in more than 47 countries. But he quit his role as chairman, president and chief executive of the enlarged Hilton International in 1990 to fulfil his lifelong dream of owning his own hotel group.
Jarvis Hotels’ development into a successful mid-market group offering consistent and reliable quality for guests on tight budgets is a testament to its founder’s shrewd commercial sense.
Within the first two years Jarvis had created three new brands – Summit Conference Centres, Embassy Leisure Breaks and Seb Coe Health Parks – to target the three most buoyant growth sectors.
He led the group to a successful listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1996 at a market capitalisation of £300m, and engineered its return to private ownership in early 2004. Since then, he has rationalised the estate down from more than 60 properties to its current tally of 42.
His lack of pomp and pretension is evident in his willingness to replace his name on the hotels with the Ramada brands since 2001 in order to boost the group’s international clout. The same year, he took on the first and only Travelodge franchise, which is at Glasgow Airport.
Jarvis had also edged the company away from property ownership toward hotel management since 1999, when he took leases on nine properties acquired by Norwich Union. Between 2001 and 2002, he achieved sales-and-leaseback deals, worth a combined £165m on 14 hotels.
In July 2005, new owner private equity firm Lioncourt, put Jarvis on the market for £200m but the sale was suspended in September.
Jarvis was awarded a CBE in 1993 for his services to tourism, a special award in the 1994 Cateys. In 2001 he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Cross in 2001 for his services to the Prince’s Trust, and served as chairman of the British Hospitality Association Council in 2001.
John Jarvis – Further information