GG Hospitality, the hotel and restaurant firm backed by former Manchester United footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, has appointed Winston J Zahra as its new chief executive.
Zahra will head up a newly formed executive team as the business gears up to roll out the Hotel Football brand in the UK and internationally.
Zahra has over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry and is the former co-owner and chief executive of Malta-based Island Hotels Group Holdings.
He took the group public and subsequently managed its sale to International Hotel Investments (IHI).
Zahra will work with group operations director Stewart Davies, recently appointed finance director Andy Floyd, and head of communications Kate Greville to grow GG Hospitality’s brands, which include Hotel Football, Café Football, GG Events and Catering, as well as the soon-to-be-launched Stock Exchange MCR hotel.
Giggs and Neville are also planning the St Michael’s development in Manchester, made up of a 200-bedroom hotel, 170 apartments, 147,000 sq ft of office space, and 32,000 sq ft of leisure space.
Zahra told The Caterer: “I have known Gary and Ryan for around ten years – they actually invested in my business a couple of years ago, and Gary sat on our board.
“I sold and stepped out of that business towards the end of last year and had a conversation with Gary who asked if I would be interested in joining them here and it didn’t take very long to take that decision because I like the way they think and work, and their ambitions.”
Speaking about his plans for the business, Zahra said: “The ambition is to see a roll-out of Hotel Football first in the UK and then internationally and to drive that roll out together with the rest of the team.
“The fundamentals are great and I think the market for this this type of brand is definitely there.
“As with any hotel, it is case of now finding the right locations and backing that up with solid operations to make sure we deliver what we are supposed to deliver to the market.”
Meanwhile, he said that Stock Exchange MCR, the 41-bedroom boutique hotel planned for Manchester’s Grade-II-listed former stock exchange building is likely to open towards the end of this year, with a precise opening date due to be revealed within the next six weeks.
Neville and Giggs said that they are looking forward to the next chapter of GG Hospitality with Zahra at the helm. “Winston is an experienced CEO and an outstanding leader. He brings a track record of reshaping businesses while simultaneously driving outstanding financial performance.”
GG Hospitality, which is co-owned by Singapore-based company Rowsley, was founded in 2013, with the launch in 2014 of Café Football, followed in 2015 by Hotel Football.
Operations were originally overseen by former managing director Stuart Procter, who left in 2015 to become general manager of the Stafford hotel in London.
The business now has three UK Café Football sites, Hotel Football Old Trafford, and GG Events and Catering, which has venues at National Football Museum, Manchester Cathedral, and Salford City FC.
Pictured: Kate Greville, Stewart Davies, Winston Zahra, and Andy Floyd