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Guus Bakker has been involved in the UK hotel industry since 2002 when he was appointed chief executive of Frasers Hospitality UK, a subsidiary of Singapore-based property firm Frasers Centre Point Limited. He was initially focused on growing Frasers' portfolio of serviced apartment brands in the UK, which today comprises five Fraser Residences, four Fraser Suites and one Fraser Place, in addition to the Park International hotel in London.
His name within the wider hotel sector increased in prominence in 2015 following the acquisition by Frasers Hospitality UK of city centre boutique brands Hotel du Vin and Malmaison (MHdV) for £363.4m from US-based private equity firm, KSL Capital Partners. At the time the portfolio comprised 29 hotels (16 Hotel du Vin and 13 Malmaisons), 22 of which were owned and seven on long-term leases. The number has since increased to 18 Hotel du Vins and 15 Malmaisons. Bakker now also has responsibility for Fraser Hospitality in mainland Europe, Middle East and Africa.
What we think
Bakker has a lot to be thankful for to the founders of Hotel du Vin (Robin Hutson and Gerard Basset) and Malmaison (Ken McCulloch) in their founding of the two boutique brands. At their launch 24 years ago both brands swiftly captured the imagination of the public for their creativity and offer to the guest of a unique hotel stay at a reasonable price point vastly, different from what at the time the global companies and other independent operators were offering.
The premium paid by Frasers for the two brands - around £163m more than KSL had paid - highlighted the high returns the hotels command. Soon after MHdV joined the Fraser portfolio, Bakker told The Caterer: "The average daily rates and total revenue per room they achieve tend to be around 50% higher than their competitor set, with food and beverage being a very important part of the business. This is driven by the very strong positioning and reputation both brands have with the market."
He went on to confirm that while KSL had an exit strategy from the outset of the ownership of the two brands, Fraser's investment was for "the long-term", with plans afoot to grow both brands to a total of 50 properties in the UK, with a view to moving into Europe, in particular Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, Germany and Switzerland, as well as Australia, China and South-east Asia.
While overseas expansion is yet to materialise, growth across the UK portfolio so far has been driven by the acquisition of four properties, including two Chapter hotels, from Swire Properties in December 2015.The four hotels have since been rebranded - two as Hotel du Vins in Exeter and Bristol Avon Gorge and two as Malmaisons in Brighton in Cheltenham.
There is much to look forward to in the future too: a Hotel du Vin is set to open next month (May) in Stratford-upon-Avon, while Malmaison's expansion will see a second property opening in Edinburgh alongside first time hotels in York and Bournemouth.
Bakker has assumed a more hands-on role at MHdV since the departure nearly a year ago of the chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, Paul Roberts, who has not been replaced. He is supported operationally by the two chief operating officers of the brands - Nick Halliday at Hotel du Vin and Scott Harper at Malmaison.
Hotel du Vin and Malmaison are no longer the stand-out brands they once were - the competition in the intervening years has come thick and fast. Investment in the properties to ensure they remain fresh and relevant today should, therefore, be a focus for Bakker in growing the two portfolios.
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