Cook to expand Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin brands

12 May 2010 by
Cook to expand Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin brands

Robert Cook, chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, intends to resume the expansion of the two boutique hotel brands after 18 months of consolidation.

Plans by parent company Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) to sell the company for more than £650m prior to the recession have been put on hold.

"We are looking to expand the group in order to grow the capital value of the brands," said Cook.

He is currently looking at sites in London, Amsterdam and Brussels for the next Malmaison and believes there is an opportunity to double the size of the Hotel du Vin brand. There are currently 12 Malmaison and 15 Hotel du Vin properties - all in the UK.

"We are near the end of the growth of Malmaison in the UK and are now looking to take the brand international," said Cook.

"As well as Europe, we are looking to expand the group into the USA, Middle East and Asia through management contracts.

"There is more scope to grow Hotel du Vin in the UK and we would like to purchase properties in towns and cities such as Salisbury, Chichester, Aberdeen, Durham, Knutsford and Guildford.

"We also think there is an opportunity to expand the Pub du Vin concept beyond the two we already have in Brighton and Birmingham."

Cook added that he expects the expansion of the asset-rich brands - MWB owns all Malmaison and Hotel du Vin properties except for Malmaison Oxford - to be backed by the company's bankers, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds.

"They consider us to be a good business, but we may also look at means of financing through insurance companies," he said.

Occupancy at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin has held up well during the recession, with a figure of 80% achieved during 2009, compared with 81% in 2008. Average room rates, though, fell by 8% year-on-year in 2009, down from £117 in 2008 to £107.

Figures for the first quarter of 2010 are ahead of target, with occupancy across the two brands at 72.8% and an average room rate of £102.80.

Annual turnover for the year is projected to be £114m, of which £55m is from food and beverage.

Cook said the business has remained buoyant by offering innovative food and beverage promotions, flexibility on pricing, and cutting costs and staff (11 jobs were cut in development and interior design).

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