Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: John Brennan, Jurys Inn

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: John Brennan, Jurys Inn

Overall ranking: 81 (ranked 35 in 2010)
Hotel ranking: 16 (ranked 11 in 2010)

John Brennan is chief executive of Jurys Inn and non-exec director at investment firm Avestus Capital Partners, which owns the midmarket hotel chain. There are currently 32 Jurys Inn hotels in the group: 25 in the UK, six in Ireland and one new property in Prague, employing more than 2,000 staff.

John Brennan - Career guide

John Brennan, who was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, spent 23 years at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in a career spanning 10 different hotels and seven countries and where, aged 34, he also became one of the youngest general managers in the group.

He eventually rose to regional vice-president before joining investment firm Quinlan Private (now Avestus Capital Partners) to look after its 70-strong hotel portfolio - a job which included asset acquisitions, disposals, and renovations and restructuring.

In 2007 Quinlan Private bought Jurys Inn for €1.165b (£956m). When Niall Geoghegan quit as Jurys chief executive in 2008 Brennan stepped in on an interim basis; but when the search for a replacement proved fruitless, Brennan took over on a full-time basis.

Brennan is a member of the Irish Hospitality Institute and a non exec director of Hilmar Hotel Management.

John Brennan - What we think

A seasoned hotelier, Brennan began his role as CEO with an ambitious growth programme, seeing seven new hotels open in 2009, bringing the total number of hotels to 30 and the total number of bedrooms to more than 7,000. But since then the group has concentrated more on refurbishing its stock and training its staff to provide 'exceptional' service.

In 2009, Brennan arranged for £60m capital investment with backing from the Oman Investment Fund, Quinlan Private, Allied Irish Banks and Anglo Irish to be used to drive Jurys' UK growth and help it to establish itself in Europe.

He has spent his two years at Jurys putting together a good team, positioning the brand as an exceptional three-star proposition and implementing a strategy for the business. This included putting substantial resources into online marketing and PR, which saw its brand awareness jump from 46% in 2009 to 60% last year (BDRC).

The recession saw Brennan raise finance from shareholders and lenders to help the group weather the downturn whilst at the same time taking strong action to reduce its cost base, including purchasing reviews, re-drawing contracts, centralising reservations and a small number of redundancies (around 10).

Brennan has also earmarked £6m for renovations this year, with a total of £20m planned for property investment over the next three years. £3.8m has already been ploughed into its two landmark Dublin hotels, Christchurch and Custom House Quay. The group will also invest a separate £2m in IT this year to keep up with the rise in online bookings which hit 40% last year.

Brennan is still keen to expand the group, with new openings in Bradford, Newcastle and Portsmouth planned this year. It's no secret that further properties in London are still on the wish list.

The group is also proud of its green credentials, with all 29 of its UK and Ireland hotels boasting a top rating from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. It was awarded Best Independent Brand at the 2010 Business Travel awards and joint most improved business brand in 2009 by BDRC.

John Brennan - Further information

John Brennan's ranking in the 2010 100 >>

The Caterer Interview - John Brennan >>

Proposed levy on hotel development will harm London tourism >>

Jurys Inn hotel chain raises £60m to expand its brand into Europe >>

Jurys Inn website >>

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