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Caterersearch.com 100: David Guile

01 July 2010
Caterersearch.com 100: David Guile

Overall ranking: 97

Hotelier ranking: 24

David Guile - Snapshot

David Guile is the chief executive of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, the privately owned company co-founded by executive director Donald Macdonald that operates 47 mostly four- and five-star hotels across the UK and 10 resorts, four of which are in Spain. Altogether, the company employs more than 4,000 staff and operates in excess of 3,900 hotel rooms.

David Guile - Career guide

Guile started his hotel career in 1985 as a trainee manager for Forte, working in the Crest hotel at Gatwick. He took a variety of roles across England before landing the plum role of general manager at Forte Posthouse's flagship hotel in Hemel Hempstead in 1994.

Two years later Guile was promoted to regional director for the East of England at the 65-strong Heritage Hotels division after Forte had succumbed to Granada's hostile takeover.

In 2000 Macdonald Hotels offered Guile the post of regional managing director for the South of England. He was promoted to the role of deputy chief executive in March 2006 and joined the group's main board three months later. He was made chief executive in 2008.

Guile has both an HND and an MBA in business studies and tourism.

David Guile - What we think

Without doubt, Guile has contributed to a turnaround in the perception of Macdonald Hotels from run-of-the-mill company to one that means business.

Macdonald was founded in 1990 by executive chairman Donald Macdonald - in partnership with Sandy Orr and Donald MacDonald (no relation), who are now both with City Inn.

After floating the group in 1996 Macdonald bought back the company in 2003 for £620m in Scotland's largest privatisation deal to date and changed his role from chief executive to executive chairman.

The costs of the operation led to a £19m loss in the year to September 2004, when an operating surplus of £31m was wiped out by £50m of interest payments. The loss deepened to £30m in 2005 when the group spent £68m on its capital expenditure programme. In 2006, in order to fund this heavy investment and reduce bank debt, the group sought to achieve a sale-and-leaseback or sale-and-manage back deal on 23 properties.

Finally, in 2007, Macdonald sold 24 hotels to Moorfield Real Estate for more than £400m, providing further funds to establish a solid footing in the four- and five-star markets.

By 2008 Guile's work in developing the brand took on more weight when he was made chief executive. He had been recognised for having masterminded the development of two new-build hotels at a cost of £60m and overseeing the investment programme of £200m in the company's hotels.

His role involved major refurbishments and the addition, or revamp, of conference space, Vital spa and leisure clubs and golfing facilities. The process included an investment of £30m in developing the food and beverage operation at 35 hotels, generating 35 AA rosettes.

Guile also focused on staff, introducing the Stairway to Success programme, helping anyone from craft to executive level to move up the career ladder.

Back in 1999, Macdonald Hotels formed a joint venture with Bank of Scotland to build and operate hotels in key city centres. Guile has pursued this, kicking off his new role by opening the 338-bedroom Macdonald Manchester, one of the largest hotels in the city.

In 2009 the company rescued the iconic £130m Aviemore Highland Resort in the Scottish Highlands, where it had a management contract, from administration. It secured financial backing to purchase the resort outright and complete an £80m refurbishment project. In the five years to 2008 consolidation allowed the company to invest about £211m in its UK hotel portfolio, only part of the benefit of which is reflected in its results for the year ended September 2008. The full benefit of this investment is still to come.

Despite growing difficulties in the sector, turnover in the year to 2008 increased by 7%, driven by a 5% rise in average room rate which was partially offset by a fall in occupancy of 4%. Like-for-like earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased by 9% to £27m.

Pre-tax profit was £12.3m compared with £124.7m in 2007, although 2007's profit included £123.4m from the disposal of 24 hotels.

For the eight months to May 2009, like-for-like sales were back 6%, with the reduction in operating profits restricted to 5% despite the impact of substantially increased energy costs.

David Guile - Further information

Macdonald Hotels names David Guile as new chief executive >>

Macdonald Hotels opens new property in Windsor >>

Macdonald Hotels hunting for London property >>

Read more about the Caterersearch.com 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

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