George Demetriou (pictured), owner of independent hotels group Cedar Court Hotels, is to retire from day-to-day management of the business after 52 years.
Demetriou's first business venture was a coffee shop in Wakefield, which opened in 1960. He opened further shops in Huddersfield, York, Lincoln, Derby, Barnsley, Bradford, Castleford and Leeds, and by 1978 had enough capital to open his first Cedar Court hotel near Wakefield by the M1 motorway.
Between 1993 and 2001 he added three further hotels in Bradford, Huddersfield and Harrogate, and his most recent project was the creation of Cedar Court Grand hotel & spa in York, which last year became Yorkshire's only five-star hotel.
He is stepping down from his role as group managing director of the Acropolis Group of Companies - which owns various hospitality and property businesses including Cedar Court Hotels - to take up the position of non-executive chairman of the holding company Acropolis Investments. He will also act as non-executive chairman of the main trading company, Acropolis Hotels.
Demetriou, who was just 22 when he opened his first coffee shop, said: "After spending over 50 years growing the business to the point where it now encompasses five hotels, a portfolio of investment properties and two coffee bars, the time has come to step aside and allow others to build the future success of the business.
"Acropolis is fortunate to have a strong senior management team so it is in very safe hands. Many of them have been with me every step of the way as the business has grown and diversified and I will enjoy seeing where it goes next in my new role.
"I have been lucky enough to see my greatest dream realised - to create a five-star hotel in Yorkshire - so the time feels right to pursue new interests. I look forward to spending more time with my family and friends."
Kevin Henry, the group finance director, will take on the role of group managing director with responsibility for overall business strategy. Henry will also act as the link between the operating businesses and the shareholding family.
He said: "Having been involved with Acropolis in a number of roles over the years - from acting as company secretary when the hotel business was started as a joint venture in 1984, through to my current role as group finance director - I have a detailed knowledge of the business and the challenges it is facing, as well as an excellent working relationship with the shareholding family. I am delighted to take on this new challenge of leading the future strategy of the company".
The group hotel director, John Horvath, will continue in that role, and will assume full responsibility for the group's high-profile hotel business.
Horvarth said: "I have been with Cedar Court Hotels for over 20 years and have seen it expand from one hotel in Wakefield to become the largest independent hotel group in Yorkshire, so I am very excited to have the opportunity to play a key role in the future prosperity of the business.
"We have already begun a programme of investment into our four-star hotels, which began with the refurbishment of 18 rooms in Wakefield. In the next 12 months we plan to upgrade our hotels in Bradford, Huddersfield and Harrogate, and make further enhancements to the Grand in York. It is all part of a five-year plan to strengthen and develop the Cedar Court Hotels brand in Yorkshire and beyond."
By Neil Gerrard
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