It was announced yesterday that twelve properties from the Menzies portfolio were snapped up by Topland, with independent hotel operator Bespoke Hotels brought in to take over the management of the sites under Vision Asset Management.
Speaking to BigHospitality after the deal, Topland’s director Tom Betts revealed that the newly acquired hotels will eventually fall under a new brand as the company wants to dramatically increase its exposure to the hotel sector.
“At this point, there are lots of options to consider,” sad Betts. “We’re ultimately looking to use this as a platform to acquire other assets that might blend well with the existing portfolio.
“We hope there’s going to be further acquisitions to build the portfolio up over the next year - there are a number of opportunities that we see coming to the market in the early part of next year, so we’ll be looking at those.
“We’ll be looking at individual acquisitions as well, if they’re a good fit for our new brand. New developments would take too long to get up and running and we want to grow the portfolio quickly.
“The overall aim is to create a renowned brand. It may be that we need two brands based on the properties we have – there’s a lot of flexibility and we don’t know which way it’s going to go as yet.”
The Menzies acquisition, which saved over 1,200 jobs, includes predominantly four-star properties spread across the UK – from Aberdeen to Bournemouth - and ranging in size from the 18-bedroom Flitwick Manor Bedfordshire to the Menzies Aberdeen Airport, with 212 bedrooms.
The ‘jewel in the crown’ is the 78-bedroom Menzies Stratford-upon-Avon property, which is set in 157 acres of parkland and recently underwent a £2.2m refurbishment. The purchase also included Bakum House - the company’s freehold head office in Derby
Topland Group, led by Sol Zakay, is one of the largest privately owned international investment groups. It already owns a number of hotels including Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel, the Brighton Metropole, the Glasgow Hilton and a portfolio of Thistle Hotels - six in central London and one in Edinburgh.
Betts explained that Topland will now be spending some capex on the newly acquired properties, claiming ‘there is definitely a need to refocus’ them.
“We’ve got deep pockets and if we need to spend money then we will,” he said. These hotels have been underperforming for a while. With the right management team in there I think we can outperform existing figures.
“Bespoke will be going in there to see what savings can be made and what can be done. The question will be what is a good fit and what we want to sell; what doesn’t fit.”
Platform for growth
Topland’s chairman and chief executive Zakay added: “This acquisition was an exceptional opportunity to acquire a profitable, highly rated hotel group which provides an excellent additional platform for us to drive forward our strategy of building a £1bn hotel platform.
“The Group as a whole is entering a particularly active phase across a number of fronts including property investment and property lending.”
Three of the hotels from the original 15-strong Menzies portfolio - situated in Luton, Gatwick and Swindon - have closed, having been operated under shorter shorter-term lease agreements.