Overall ranking: 89
Hotelier ranking: 23
Tim Scoble – Snapshot
Tim Scoble is the chief executive at Guoman Hotels Management, the parent company of the Guoman and Thistle brands. Under Thistle, it operates 33 hotels across the UK, including 11 in central London, and two in Malaysia. Under Guoman it currently has four hotels in London. The company is owned by Guocoleisure, an international investment company headquartered in Singapore, renamed from BIL International. Thistle dates back to Mount Charlotte Hotels of the 1960s and gained its current identity after Mount Charlotte bought 34 Thistle hotels and the Thistle name from Scottish & Newcastle in 1989.
Tim Scoble – Career guide
Scoble is a qualified chartered accountant who has clocked up more than 15 years in the restaurant, hotel and pub/bar business on top of 13 years’ experience in finance with the fast-moving-consumer-goods and leisure retailing sectors.
He spent two years with Queens Moat Houses, where he looked after three Holiday Inns and 39 Moat House hotels in the UK.
Scoble then moved to the Little Chef roadside chain, where he was chief executive officer responsible for 350 Little Chef restaurants alongside 110 Burger King outlets, a number of Compass branded offers and 40 petrol forecourts.
He joined Thistle as chief executive in January 2006.
Tim Scoble – What we think
Thistle has undergone some major changes since BIL (now Guoman Hotels), the group’s majority shareholder since 1990, launched a successful hostile takeover bid to take the company private again and – not for the first time – oust its former management team.
Believing Thistle had underperformed since it floated on the London stock market in 1996, BIL launched a £554.7m bid in March 2004. Thistle fought the bid, but shareholders accepted an improved offer of £627m in May.
Thistle subsequently shifted power from the centre to the general managers, abandoned its “one size fits all” approach and disposed of its non-core properties.
Since taking control in 2006, Scoble has reorganised the senior management team to refocus on the brand position of Thistle. In 2007 more than £100m was pledged to rebrand the portfolio and give it a more informal, contemporary style. This programme is now well under way, with 1,100 bedrooms now refurbished.
Thistle was already working towards upgrading and modernising its offer to regain the more upscale position it had held a decade before. “We want to be in the four- to five-star sector, instead of the three-and-a-half- to four-and-a-half-star range where we are,” chairman Arun Amarsi explained in 2004.
Scoble is also rolling out the new global de luxe brand Guoman, which means “international gateway” in Mandarin. The name is being used on a line of upscale, international city hotels and is taking the company outside the UK.
The first UK hotel to receive the Guoman makeover was the 1,019-bedroom Cumberland hotel at Marble Arch in London, which was relaunched in October 2004 after a £59m revamp. London hotels the Tower Thistle, Royal Horseguards and Thistle Charing Cross have also been converted to the new de luxe format.
Recognising the potential of Asia, Scoble has recently appointed an international chief operating officer to open offices in both Shanghai and Singapore in order to support expansion in the region.
He has stated: “The plan is to quickly have further sites in the pipeline; locations which will match our ambitions, from India to China and south to Singapore. These are enormous growth areas and regions which will undergo dramatic economic growth over the next 20 years.”
The Guoman brand’s first overseas hotel will open in Shanghai in summer 2010. A further hotel in Beijing is due to start on site in early 2010 as is a new-build hotel in Damansara, Malaysia. Thistle has already opened two hotels in Malaysia.
Tim Scoble – Further information
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Published by: The Caterer