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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Sir Rocco Forte, Rocco Forte Collection

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Sir Rocco Forte, Rocco Forte Collection

Overall ranking: 32 (ranked 31 in 2010)

Hotel ranking: 9 (ranked 10 in 2010)

Sir Rocco Forte is the chairman and chief executive of the Rocco Forte Collection, a group of 13 individual luxury hotels which he set up in 1996 as RF Hotels. The Collection includes the Balmoral in Edinburgh, the Lowry in Manchester, Brown's hotel in London and the Charles hotel in Munich.

Sir Rocco Forte - Career guide

Sir Rocco Forte, was born in Bournemouth in 1945 the son of (Lord) Charles Forte, arguably one of the world's most influential hoteliers. It's hardly surprising then that he was exposed to all aspects of his father's business from the age of 13. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1969 before joining the family firm, where he rose to become chairman and chief executive of Forte.

During his time at Forte, he had responsibility for more than 800 hotels, 1,000 restaurants and almost 100,000 employees in 50 countries around the world. As chairman, he transformed Forte from a UK operation to an international hotel player, based on the Le Méridien chain and a collection of luxury hotels including the George V in Paris, Sandy Lane in Barbados, the Ritz in Madrid and the Plaza Athénée in New York.

In 1996, the company was subject to a £3.87b hostile takeover by Granada. Forte founded RF Hotels after failing to buy back the Le Méridien hotel chain from Granada in 1996. It only became Rocco Forte Hotels in 2001 when Compass Group returned the rights to the Forte business name it had inherited from its merger with Granada in 2000. The group was renamed the Rocco Forte Collection in July 2007.

The group now comprises: Hotel de Russie, Rome; Hotel Savoy, Florence; The Balmoral, Edinburgh; The Lowry Hotel, Manchester; Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg; Hotel Amigo, Brussels; Brown's Hotel, London; Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt; Hotel de Rome, Berlin; Le Richemond, Geneva (currently being run on a management contract, which is due to be taken over by the Dorchester Collection in August 2011); The Charles Hotel, Munich; The Augustine, Prague; Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily.

Sir Rocco Forte - What we think

It was never going to be easy for Sir Rocco to make his own mark on the industry that his father dominated for so many years, but despite the odds, he has undoubtedly become a respected hotelier and industry leader in his own right.

His company, the Rocco Forte Collection, has maintained a reputation for quality, with all the properties in the group being members of the Leading Hotels of the World consortium.

But it's not all been plain sailing. The group was badly affected by the global recession. Last year (2010) saw a $41m (£25.2m) loss, on top of a $9m (£5.5m) loss the previous year. This seems to have been resolved through the sale of Le Richemond Hotel in Geneva for an estimated $82m (£50.4m) and a reaching a long term agreement with the banks on financing and their joint venture.

Sir Rocco told ArabianBusiness.com in May 2011: "At the height of the recession our sales dropped by about 20% and we recovered 12.5% last year. Last year, there was a big recovery in the luxury market in Europe. There was a strong recovery in business from the US, which is our principal market."

Sir Rocco is now concentrating on his expansion plans for the group in the Middle East. He signed a second contract for an Egyptian hotel in Luxor in April, in addition to the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo. It was the fifth management contract secured by the company with others in and Abu Dhabi (2011), Jeddah (2013), Marrakech (2014), and Cairo (2014). A Beirut property was also announced recently and Sir Rocco has admitted looking for other sites in Oman, Dubai and Riyadh.

He also has plans in Europe. "I still want to finish off Europe - there are a number of cities I'm not represented in there," he said citing Madrid, Paris, Milan, Venice, Moscow, Amsterdam as targets.

Sir Rocco Forte's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>

Rocco Forte Collection to manage second Egyptian hotel >>

Rocco Forte sells Le Richemond >>

Hoteliers dominate hospitality Rich List >>

The legend of Rocco >>

Rocco Forte website >>

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