Norman Springford has stepped down as chairman of Apex Hotels, the family-run company he founded 18 years ago.
He has been replaced by his son, Ian, who runs Ian Springford Associates, the company responsible for the design of Apex Hotels, which now numbers eight four-AA-star properties.
An accountant by training, Norman Springford said he “could not run a hotel to save my life”, highlighting the fact that his success has been due to his appointment of the best operators, such as managing director, Angela Vickers. “My role is focused on finance and profitability.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but one of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed since I opened my first hotel in Edinburgh in 1996 is the increase in number of hotels being run by accountants rather than hoteliers, alongside the growth in budget hotels and a move towards distribution via the online travel agents.
“Accountants are generally not the right people to run hotels – they are more interested in the bottom line, rather than providing true hospitality.”
Norman Springford’s departure as chairman was announced alongside the publication of Apex Hotels’ annual financial results for the year to 30 April 2014, during which the company achieved a 11% increase in turnover to £56m and a 16.7% increase in operating profit. Profit, before exceptional items, grew 37% to £9.6m.
The number of bedrooms sold during the period was 363,736, up 6.9%, while occupancy grew from 81.4% to 87.2%. Average room rate and revenue per available room increased respectively by 4.1% to £120.24 and by 11.5% to £104.84.
Expansion of Apex Hotels, which has three hotels in London, four in Edinburgh and one in Dundee, will be by extending existing properties and the addition of two new hotels. A 177-bedroom hotel, which is to be developed in Bath at a cost of £35m, will open in 2016, while an existing hotel, which has recently being acquired in Glasgow, will re-launch in summer 2015 following an extensive refurbishment due to start in January.
Ian Springford said he wanted to acknowledge and thank his father for “the outstanding contribution” he has made to Apex to date. “In addition to founding and growing the company from a single hotel in the Grassmarket [in Edinburgh], he has also instilled the values and standards that makes the Apex Hotels unique and held in such high regard by our guests and industry colleagues alike. I look forward to working with the team to build upon these values and continue the company’s growth and success into the future.”
Norman Springford, who will celebrate his 70th birthday next month, said he will continue to take an active role in the company as a board member and in working on capital projects. His two other children are also involved in the company: son David, a graphic designer, has created the website and works on marketing, while daughter Jo also works in marketing and PR.