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The Caterer

Firmdale holds strong during recession

13 July 2010 by
Firmdale holds strong during recession

Firmdale Holdings, the boutique hotel operator, has bucked the downward trend in the market, having reported healthy occupancy and average room rates for 2009.

At a time when the rest of the industry was suffering from falling figures, the average occupancy for Firmdale's six London hotels - the Covent Garden, Charlotte Street, Soho, Haymarket, Knightsbridge and Number 16 - was 85.8%, slightly up from 85.7% in 2008, while the average room rate fell slightly from £284.71 to £282.49.

In contrast, the average hotel room in London for 2009 was £126, according to the trivago Hotel Price Index.

Overall, the company increased its turnover to a new record of £54.1m, up from £52.3m the previous year, while gross profit rose from £22m to £23.2m.

Firmdale's finance director, Malcolm Soden, said: "Firmdale's resilient UK occupancy and rate is maintained through a number of factors, which we take very seriously including maintaining guest loyalty, a high percentage of repeat business at around 50%, the level of personal service offered in each hotel, and overall attention to detail in creating a first class product. We have also been fortunate to benefit from the strong dollar and euro."

The operator's newest property and its first outside the UK - the Crosby Street Hotel in New York - successfully opened in October 2009, achieving an average occupancy of 50% and average room rate of £360 in the first four months of trading. This is regarded by the company as a great achievement from a standing start in a market that has suffered a revenue per available room (revPAR) decline of 26% during the recession.

"These statistics reflect our underlying philosophy of holding out for rate and then letting occupancy build as our visibility grows rather than heavily discounting," said Soden.

The success of Crosby Street has encouraged Firmdale to develop a second hotel in New York. Meanwhile, in London, the company has lodged a planning application for a 90-bedroom hotel with a theatre and bowling alley between Great Windmill Street and Denman Street in Soho.

Firmdale to devlop hotel in Soho >>

Rising costs slash profits at Firmdale Hotels >>

Tim and Kit Kemp on the Haymarket Hotel >>

By Janet Harmer

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