Folio Hotels portfolio split to create two new hotel groups

03 December 2009 by
Folio Hotels portfolio split to create two new hotel groups

went into administration last December - has been split between a newly formed hotel group, Akkeron Hotels and the Vineyard Group.

Eight properties have been sold to Akkeron Hotels, while seven have had their management contracts taken back in-house by The Vineyard Group - whose parent company, Sonoma, also owns The Vineyard at Stockcross and Donnington Valley hotel in Berkshire.

The management of the remaining three hotels - the Durley Dean, Bournemouth; the Best Western Princess on Portland, Manchester; and Highfield House, Southampton - are being taken over by their individual owners.

Akkeron Hotels is a newly formed company owned by James Brent, previously global head of real estate and lodging of Citi's investment bank, and property developer Colin Johnston.

The eight properties, which include the Caledonian Hotel, Oban; Yorkshire Hotel, Harrogate; Harte & Garter Hotel & Spa, Windsor; will continue to be operated as Folio Hotels with Welbourn remaining as managing director. They will also provide a platform for major expansion plans for the group - the group intends to build a portfolio of up to 150 regional hotels across the UK.

"We are very pleased that we have eight strong, profitable hotels as the basis of the new company," said Welbourn. "It is extremely positive that James and Colin have agreed to invest in the industry at this particular time. Our strength has been in operations and our weakness in finance, which is now being provided in abundance by James and Colin."

Meanwhile, The Vineyard Group has taken over the management of seven former Folio-managed hotels owned by its sister company, Sonoma.

Ranging in size from the 47-bedroom Brownsover Hall Hotel in Rugby, up to the 84-bedroom Maids Head Hotel, Norwich, the fabric of the hotels have received considerable investment in recent years by Sonoma, which together with The Vineyard Group, is owned by Sir Peter Michael.

"We now intend to inject the same kind of investment in the operational and service side of the hotels - through support we can give in food and beverage management, sales and marketing and human resources - as we have in the past in the refurbishment of the hotels," said Andrew McKenzie, managing director of The Vineyard Group.

"We are taking over a great team of staff who are very excited about the future."

Folio Hotels emerged from administration in January 2009 following the creation of a holding company, Mulbourn Limited, led by managing director Matthew Welbourn. The properties continued to trade under the Folio Hotels banner with funding provided by the hotels' landlords, the management team and private equity.

Gross operating profit at Folio grew in the 10 months to October by 2.4%, against an industry average decline of more than 14% (TRI Provincial statistics).

Folio Hotels out of administration and under new ownership >>

Interview with Andrew McKenzie, 2008 Hotelier of the Year >>

By Janet Harmer

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