Richard Balfour-Lynn has resigned as chief executive of MWB Group Holdings, the parent company of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
His resignation comes just six months after he stepped down as the chief executive of the De Vere Group.
In a statement, Balfour-Lynn said the decision to go had been a hard one as he had spent most of his working life with the MWB Group. "I will remain a committed and supportive shareholder and have every confidence in both the board of MWB Group and the management teams to take the group to the next stage of its development. We have two growing subsidiaries with strong brands: MWB Business Exchange and Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin."
The surprise departure of Balfour-Lynn from MWB comes 30 years after he founded the company as Warwick Balfour Properties, which was initially focused on development and investment.
As MWB, the group moved into hotels in 2002 when it teamed up with Rezidor SAS Hospitality to buy the five-strong Malmaison chain of boutique hotels for £77m and two years later snapped up the six-strong Hotel du Vin group from founders Robin Hutson and Gerard Bassett for £66.4m. Today the two hotel brands have 26 hotels between them. The company also operates the serviced office provider MWB Exchange.
In 2005 Balfour-Lynn and other MWB directors set up the Alternative Hotel Group (AHG) to buy Initial Style Conferences from Rentokil Initial for £325m. A year later AHG snapped up the De Vere Group - encompassing 18 four- and five-star UK hotels, 16 Village Hotels & Leisure Clubs, the Greens health and fitness club chain and distiller and bottler G&J Greenall - for £1.1b. In December 2010 AHG was rebranded as the De Vere Group. However, he stepped down as chief executive of De Vere in September 2011.
The recession brought considerable financial pressure on both MWB and the De Vere Group. In March 2010, Balfour-Lynn successfully completed a £650m debt-for-equity swap with the Bank of Scotland, freeing up funds for further expansion of the De Vere Group. And last year saw the sale and leaseback of five hotels and the refinancing of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, resulting in a reduction in the company's debt to around £180m.
It is believed that there are no immediate plans to replace Balfour-Lynn as chief executive of MWB. The chairman of the group, Eric Sanderson, said: "Richard is an exceptional entrepreneur who has built up a major hotel and business services group. He has always been passionate about developing great hospitality in the business. We would like to thank him for his drive and enthusiasm in building some exceptional brands. "
By Janet Harmer
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