Delight for McKeevers as hotels chain profits double
Family-run hotel company McKeever Hotels has reported an almost-doubling in profits to just over £900,000.
The Co Antrim-based group, which owns Corr's Corner in Newtownabbey, the Adair Arms in Ballymena, Dunsilly Hotel in Antrim and Co Donegal's Dillon's Hotel, also saw turnover grow from £5.68m to £6.52m. Staff numbers also grew to nearly 200.
The company is run by founders Eugene and Catherine McKeever and their son Eddie, the group operations director, and daughter Bridgene, who is sales and marketing director.
Eugene said the year to the end of September 2014 had been "our best yet".
He added: "I am delighted with our results. We have had an ongoing investment policy even through the recession and have been building by acquisitions."
He was head chef at Corr's Corner when it was a restaurant, before buying it and converting it into a hotel in 1997.
Mr McKeever then built the Dunsilly Hotel in 2005 before buying the Adair Arms in 2010. The family then bought the former Letterkenny Court Hotel before renaming it Dillon's last year.
He said the company had not been afraid of expansion, even during the recession.
"We have been lucky in that our bank has kept supporting us, even during the recession."
And having invested in new hotels, the company had been in a good position to benefit from the recent pick-up in the economy.
Mr McKeever said it was an eye-opener operating a business in the Republic, which has introduced a lower rate of Vat of 9% for hospitality-related businesses, as well as in Northern Ireland where all businesses charge the same rate of Vat at 20%.
"Their low rate is a big advantage and it would help big time to have that here."
"But the weak euro is good for people going down south, but it makes it harder to get them up to the north."
Tourism overall has been a major contributor to the success of the company - although he said they had not felt a direct benefit from the Game of Thrones phenomenon, with fans of the cult series flocking to locations along the north coast used in the fantasy show.
But Titanic Belfast, he said, was continuing to exert a strong attraction to visitors and had contributed to his business.
And with son Eddie now group operations director after working in the Dublin-based Maldron Group, he was well equipped to deal with the challenges of running a hotel in the Republic.
He hoped 2015 would be an even better year for the business.