Lancashire-based brewer and pub company Daniel Thwaites is launching a new hotel brand called Inns of Character with an emphasis on high levels of hospitality, good-quality food and a wide range of cask ales and fine wines.
It intends to open 20 Inns within the next five years and is currently looking for chefs and managers who are keen to run their own businesses without taking on all the risks of ownership.
The Inns will complement Thwaites's existing Shire Hotels brand, which currently operates six four-star hotels, each with an average of 120 bedrooms, 20 meetings rooms, spa and strong food and drink offer.
By the end of March 2010, five of the 350 pubs within Thwaites's tenanted estate will have been transferred to the Inns of Character. They include the 23-bedroom Millstone at Mellor (pictured), near Blackburn, Lancashire.
Tony Spencer, managing director of Shire Hotels, said the company had employed Christie & Co to help in the search for further properties which can be converted into Inns of Character. "Initially we are looking to buy inns which are within a one-hour drive of our Shire Hotels, so that they can provide support for the new businesses," he said.
Shire Hotels are currently located in Kettering, Fareham, Bristol, Knutsford, Leeds and Penrith.
Spencer said that Inns of Character would be individually designed, have an average of 25 bedrooms, offer an informal style of four-star service, with a food offer which aims to be at Michelin Bib Gourmand level.
"There is a demand from a number of different markets for what we are aiming to achieve with Inns of Character," he said. "We will appeal to the corporate traveller who wants something more personal, than the budget experience, with good-quality, local food and good-quality beds, as well as the leisure guest with a specialist interest in walking or culture activities, who are seeking individuality."
The funding of the new Inns of Character brand was boosted by the sale in 2009 by Thwaites of the Stafford hotel in London for £77.5m.
By Janet Harmer
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