Queens Moat Houses
Telephone:01708 730 522
Fax:01708 762 691
Queens Moat Houses (QMH) is a hotel operator that runsmore than 60 hotels in three European countries through three subsidiary divisions.
Since its second rescue from insolvency (in 2004), the group has moved away from being an owner-operator to becoming a franchisee.
Most of the hotels run by Moat House Hotels in the UK have switched from the Moat House brand to become Holiday Inns and Crowne Plazas.
Queens Hotels in Germany operates properties under the Holiday Inn, Queens hotel and Best Western Queens hotel brands. In the Netherlands, most of the hotels run by subsidiary Bilderberg Hotels are individually named.
The story of QMH is one of a meteoric rise and of an equally meteoric crash. Its impressive growth during the 1980s to become the UK’s third largest hotel group with a strong Continental presence was, it emerged, all founded upon a lie.
The government enquiry into the group’s financial crisis of 1993 (only published in 2004) found widespread evidence of “unconventional and unacceptable accounting policies and practices”.
It describes poor corporate governance, minimal central administration, no proper appraisals of acquisitions, no serious performance, abuse of the Management Incentive Scheme, and serious failings by its advisors.
The damning report concludes that “from at least 1975 QMH never made genuine profits at the level it reported but at levels which were far from impressive”.
It adds that, had the inflation of results “been detected at an early enough stage, and there is every reason it should have been at the least at the time of the 1982 rights issue to acquire County Hotels, it is unlikely that QMH would have grown beyond a small group.
The new managers installed in 1993 made a game effort to knock the company into shape, trimming down its portfolio and reducing its debt. And for a while it looked as though they might pull it off.
But, burdened by steep debt from day one, the group buckled under the bad times that hit the hotel sector from around 2001 – the economic recession, the foot-and-mouth outbreak, the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York, the Gulf War, and the SARs epidemic.
It finally faced insolvency again in 2004 until Whitehall 2001, a subsidiary of investment bank Goldman Sachs, came up with a rescue package.
Since then, the group has been undergoing a major restructure, and has moved from being an owner-operator to a franchisee. Most of the UK Moat Houses have been rebranded under the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands.
The last published financial figures for the group show a 2003 turnover of £323.7m (2002: £324.4m) and a pre-tax loss of £44.4m (2003: -£4.6m) after exceptional costs of £26.2m.
Turnover in the six months to 27 June 2004 was £147.9m (2003: £156m)
Total number of hotels: 63
Moat House Hotels (UK)
Number of hotels: 20
Holiday Inn: 12 (Bolton, Doncaster, Harrogate, London Elstree, London Shepperton, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Peterborough, Plymouth, Solihull, Stratford upon Avon)
Crowne Plaza: 3 (Chester, Glasgow, Nottingham)
Moat House hotels: 2 (Reading, Stoke)
Unbranded hotels: 2 (Cambridge Garden House hotel in Cambridge, Oakley Court hotel in Windsor)
Queens Hotels (Germany)
Number of hotels: 22
Most are Holiday Inns, apart from five Best Western Queens hotels and a Queens hotel in Hanover.
Bilderberg Hotels and Restaurants (Netherlands)
Number of hotels: 21
Most hotels are individually named, apart from one Crowne Plaza.
9-17 Eastern Road