Home Grown Hotels has announced a £30m expansion of its Pig litter with the opening of three properties in Kent, West Sussex and Cornwall.
The first of the three new hotels to open will be in the village of Bridge near Canterbury, Kent (pictured). Due to launch this autumn, the Pig at Bridge Place will be located within a Grade II*-listed, 17th-century manor house dating back to 1638.
Originally a family home known as Bridge Place Manor, the property has operated for the past 50 years as a music venue under the name of Bridge Place Country Club, where the likes of Moody Blues and Manfred Mann played during the 1970s. It was listed for sale last year off a guide price of £2.5m.
Under the new ownership the main building, featuring Jacobean panelling, will house numerous bar and sitting areas, as well as seven bedrooms.
A newly built Coach House will feature a conservatory restaurant with open kitchen and 12 more bedrooms, while seven 'hop pickers huts' with wood burning stoves will be created from reclaimed materials on an island within the grounds. An additional restored lodge will provide two bedrooms. A second eating space offering wood-fire cooking will be located in the Kitchen Larder, a converted barn.
The next two hotels will be located near Arundel, West Sussex (the South Downs Pig) and near Padstow, Cornwall (the Pig at Harlyn Bay). Both are set to open in 2019.
The West Sussex hotel will be situated in Grade II-listed Madehurst Lodge, a former residential property which was acquired by Home Grown Hotels last year and is currently the subject of a judicial review after South Downs National Park Authority granted planning permission for its conversion to a hotel. Meanwhile, the Cornwall hotel will open within the recently acquired Grade II*-listed Harlyn House, subject to change of use consents from a private home.
Since the launch of the original Pig in the New Forest in 2011 with financial backing from multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos, one of the world's largest chemical companies, the brand has captured the imagination of guests and critics alike, consistently enjoying occupancy rates of more than 90%. Turnover for Home Grown Hotels in 2016 climbed 20% to £17.1m, according to the group's most recent financial results lodged at Companies House. Pre-tax profit dropped from £969,813 in 2015 to £40,004, due to opening costs of the Pig at Combe.
Robin Hutson said he was "thrilled" to announce the new openings after "a great couple of years, with customers apparently loving what we do". He said that each of the "truly unique properties" had been found after extensive searching. "We know from our loyal guests they still want more Pig locations."
Hutson added that with Brexit on the horizon, the company had put a lot more effort into apprenticeship schemes in order to capture home-grown talent. "With a strong focus on food and beverage we are looking to recruit 80 to 90 staff at each hotel."
Looking ahead, Hutson said he has no intention of running a group of 20 hotels. "I wouldn't begin to know how to manage a company of that size," but admitted that if another interesting property was to come along, he would look at it.
Despite receiving offers from time to time to sell the business, he said that he was in no rush to do so. "We'll continue running the business as long as we enjoy it, and we're still enjoying it."
Hutson and his then business partner Gerard Basset sold what at the time was the seven-strong Hotel du Vin group in 2004, 10 years after they founded the company. Home Grown Hotels was launched seven years ago.
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