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Increase in room numbers sees drop in profits for hotel group Andras House - despite rise in turnover to £26m

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Crowne Plaza

Crowne Plaza

Hampton by Hilton

Hampton by Hilton

Crowne Plaza

An increase in hotel room numbers across Belfast contributed to a fall of 27% in pre-tax profits to £5.1m at hotels business Andras House, its director has said.

During the year to the end of April 2019, turnover rose by 10% from £23.6m to £26m at the company, which owns six hotels in Belfast as well as serviced apartments.

Administrative expenses increased from £4.9m to £6.3m, while employment numbers grew from 248 to 347. However, company pre-tax profits dropped from just under £7m to £5.1m.

Director Rajesh Rana, whose father Lord Rana founded the business, said the group added 93 rooms following extensions to the Holiday Inn Express, a venue on University Street, and Crowne Plaza Hotel, a property at Shaw's Bridge in south Belfast.

It also opened a new hotel in 2018, the Hampton by Hilton.

Visit Belfast and Waterfront ICC have done a good job of selling Belfast as a location, and tourism generally should keep growing Andras House director Rajesh Rana

It owns three others - a Holiday Inn in Belfast city centre, and two Ibis hotels. It also runs a serviced apartments complex, Concordia, in south Belfast.

The company's own extension in room numbers was part of a total 33% growth in the number of hotel rooms across Belfast over the last few years.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph about the company's financial performance, Mr Rana said: "Turnover was up because we launched a lot of new rooms, but during the year the tourism sector generally was still bedding in the new room stock in the city.

Hampton by Hilton

"Generally you'll have seen rates and occupancy soft so that's one of the reasons profit would be down a little... that 33% increase in bedroom stock has spread business around."

He was hopeful that business would pick up after a slow start to 2020 for conferencing, an important aspect of the firm's business.

"Things were weak for the first quarter of 2020 but that is common for all sectors of tourism in the first quarter, including the conferencing sector," he said.

"Conferencing was hit to some extent by Brexit concerns, with people thinking last year they might need visas to travel.

"But we hope that with things having stabilised politically, we'll have an increase in business travel, which has been quite soft, perhaps because of uncertainty locally and nationally.

"Hopefully, growth of business confidence will lead to more people travelling for business reasons, and conferencing should pick up too.

"Visit Belfast and Waterfront ICC have done a good job of selling Belfast as a location, and tourism generally should keep growing."

The company is also in the process of seeking planning permission for a new hotel in Portrush, and has hit out at government departments including the Department for Infrastructure for the length of time it's taking to process its application.

Mr Rana said the project at Main Street/Atlantic Avenue in the north coast town was worth £6.6m and would create 48 jobs during construction and 41 permanent jobs when it opens.

It's also planning a £19m development anchored by an additional apart-hotel brand for the site at 29 to 33 Bedford Street in Belfast, between Wetherspoon's bar and Pizza Express.

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