Hastings Hotels group back in profit after lockdowns

Hastings Hotels group back in profit after lockdowns

Hastings Hotels Holdings reported pre-tax profits of nearly £700,000 in its latest accounts, having recorded a £16.6m loss a year earlier.

The hotel group, which operates six venues here, saw revenues jump by 12%, from £25m to £28m, to the end of October 2021.

Operating income of £6.8m included £6.3m in government grants, up from £3.3m in the previous year.

As reported in LCN last October the company sold its Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down, but still owns the Europa, Grand Central, Stormont and Culloden hotels in Belfast, as well as Ballygally Castle in Larne and the Everglades in Londonderry.

It also retains a shares in the luxury Merrion Hotel in Dublin but reportedly is trying to divest itself of that interest.

Finance director Peter Gibson said: “Following a turbulent number of years for all businesses, particularly those in the tourism industry, we are pleased to report we are on track in our post-Covid recovery plan.

“We have continued to invest in our people and our properties and recently celebrated the Grand Central Hotel being awarded a five-star rating by the AA.

“We have worked hard to attract the domestic and Republic of Ireland markets and now with the international visitors starting to return and our forward bookings for the summer looking very positive, we are committed to building on this in the months ahead.”

The latest filings at Companies House also show employee numbers at the family-run company are down by nearly 20%, from 1,161 to 933, with wages and salaries also dropping from £14.4m to £11.6m.

Net assets were £44m, which was up from £33.4m.

The business was founded by the late Sir Billy Hastings in 1966 and is now operated by his four children. Sir Billy’s wife, Lady Joy Hastings, died earlier this month.

In a strategic report filed with the financial statements, the company said: “The directors consider that the outturn for the year and the year-end position to be satisfactory given the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic during the period.

“The group will continue to seek every opportunity to increase profitable turnover as we emerge from the pandemic.”

It added: “We remain focused on managing the business through the current challenging period while also ensuring that we are positioned to emerge strongly as our markets recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We were very pleased to have reopened the hotels on May 24, 2021, in line with government guidance. We continue to take advantage of all the Government schemes that have been made available to support our industry through this difficult period.”

The company said the business faced risks such as competition from other licensed premises and hotel groups and employee retention. To manage risk, the board of directors carried out regular strategic reviews and assessment of competitor activity.

It also said the business aimed to source products locally as far as possible, whether food and beverages or furnishings and building materials.

Group activities such as cash flow, liquidity position and borrowing facilities were constantly monitored by directors, the report said, adding: “As a consequence, the directors believe the group is well placed to manage its business risks successfully despite the current uncertain economic outlook.”