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The Hot Scots Power 40: Donald Macdonald, Macdonald Hotels

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Donald Macdonald, Macdonald Hotels

Ranking: 18

Donald Macdonald - Snapshot

Donald Macdonald is executive chairman of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. He established the group in 1990 and has expanded it to become the UK's largest privately owned hotel group. It operates more than 45 hotels across the UK, and ten resorts throughout the UK and Spain. It employs more than 4,000 staff and operates in excess of 4,500 hotel rooms.

Donald Macdonald - Career guide

Donald Macdonald was born into a crofter's family on Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Plans to become an accountant were abandoned when a summer job with Turnberry Golf Resort wooed him over to the hospitality industry and he joined British Transport Hotels as an apprentice. Macdonald made his name as managing director of the Stakis Hotels group at 33 but left age 42 in 1989.

In 1990 he formed Macdonald Hotels with colleagues and investors, which was subsequently floated on the stock market in 1996. The situation was reversed in 2003 when Macdonald led a management buyout in a £590m deal which took the hotels into private ownership, in a deal underwritten by the Bank of Scotland.

Its focus is on developing a portfolio of four- and five- star hotels, which Donald Macdonald also expects to be distinguished from other groups by the individuality and seasonality and provenance of its food. This approach has been well- received and the group has won the AA Hotel Group of the Year (2007-08) and the National Customer Service Awards for Leisure and Tourism.

It has also set itself green targets, and under its ‘Room 15' programme, led by internal ‘green teams', Macdonald Hotels & Resorts focuses on self-imposed targets. This includes reducing its electricity and fossil fuel usage by 15% by 2015. It was recently named 2012-2013 AA Eco-Hotel Group of the Year, receiving the MIDAS award for the Best Breakfast 2011/12, a 2012 Good Egg Award by Compassion for World Farming, the National Customer Service Awards for Leisure and Tourism and it has retained the Carbon Trust Standard (first received in 2011).

Donald Macdonald - What we think
After a loss of £5.6m on the period to 31 March 2011 which it attributed to this being an 18-month period which included two winter trading months) Macdonald Hotels reported a profit after tax of £1.9m for the year ending 29 March 2012, with a like- for- like comparison of trading results also revealing an increase of group turnover by 2% to £139.5m and operating profit before interest by 3% to £13.7m.

Donald Macdonald works closely with his chief executive David Guile who commented to Caterer: "The challenge for the group is to continue to identify incremental revenue streams to maximise profitability of the business, while also having to absorb increased costs in the likes of food and utilities. I believe the industry as a whole faces a similar challenge."

"The opportunity for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is to drive price through quality; so further enhance our products and service levels to continually focus on delivering a quality experience", says Guile.

Bearing in mind Donald Macdonald's strong opinions on food sourcing and quality, and the group's continuing capital investments, this strategy looks set to continue.

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: David Guile, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts >>

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