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The Caterer

Wolfgang Neumann

12 May 2005
Wolfgang Neumann

Overall ranking: 54

Hotelier ranking: 15

Snapshot

Wolfgang Neumann is the area president for the UK and Ireland at Hilton International, which owns, leases, manages or franchises 405 hotels across the world (except the USA). It is part of the Hilton Group, the UK-based gaming and hospitality giant.

Neumann is responsible for Hilton's 76 hotels and 86 LivingWell health and leisure clubs in the UK and Ireland, where the division employs more than 15,000 staff.

Career guide

Neumann was born in 1962 and educated at the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Salzburg.

After joining Hilton in 1984, Neumann worked in New York before transferring to the UK and Ireland as assistant director of training and development.

He moved to Brussels in 1992 to manage Hilton hotels in London, Paris and Frankfurt and, in 1999, he was promoted to vice-president for Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

In 2001 he took on the role of senior vice-president of hotel operations for the Nordic region, where he was responsible for 140 hotels and integrated the Scandic brand into the Hilton family. He took on his current role in February 2003.

What we think

Hilton is one of the world's best-known hotel brands and it is the UK's third largest operator by bedroom numbers. It was voted the fifth most respected leisure and hotel group in the peer-reviewed Britain's Most Admired Companies 2004 rankings, and came 91st in the pan-industry top 220 table.

The UK is Hilton International's most profitable region, although hotels in Europe and Africa generate more turnover. In 2004, UK hotels offset the 23% drop in operating profits of 2003 by boosting profits by 15% to £95.1m (nearly half the group total of £197m) on a turnover of £655.1m. The LivingWell health clubs (including 14 overseas venues) contributed £6.3m in profits.

Neumann is responsible for all the five- four-star Hilton hotels in the UK, but not for the five-star Conrads in London, Kilkenny and Dublin, which fall under a joint venture between Hilton International and Hilton Hotel Corporation of the USA.

This trend kicked off with the £312m sale-and-leaseback of 11 hotel to the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2001, and the £311m sale-and-leaseback of a further 10 properties to property group Rotch in 2002.

Neumann has been refining the UK portfolio to raise standards and has disposed of 15 non-core properties in the past year, including the sale this March of 11 provincial hotels to Stardon UK that will continue to run as Hiltons for eight months.

New developments will replace this room stock by 2007, including new-builds at Dublin Airport this spring and at London's Canary Wharf, Manchester Deansgate, London Tower Bridge in 2006. Another nine or so are in the pipeline, although more sales could be on the cards as Hilton plans to sell assets worth up to £400m this year across the group.

Hilton is keen to run a super-casino in Blackpool and is the only UK company to have put in a bid.

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