Belfast Telegraph

Fewer of Northern Ireland's hotels at risk of insolvency, claim experts

By Margaret Canning

The outlook is improving further for Northern Ireland hotels with the risk of insolvency falling for the sector, it has been claimed.

Insolvency body R3 said the first few months of 2016 had seen a fall of 12% in the number of hotel companies at risk of going out of business.

Michael Neill, a partner in law firm A&L Goodbody and Northern Ireland representative of R3, said Belfast was expected to gain 1,000 more hotel rooms in the next three years.

Around 20 new hotels are estimated to be in the works for the city - and this week, Cathedral Quarter spot the Waring Hotel won planning permission.

Other proposed hotels in the city include the Bedford Hotel, a project by the Hill family, who also own the Galgorm Resort and Spa near Ballymena, and the Grand Central, a new project by Hastings Hotels Group.

But Mr Neill said there could be a risk of the city becoming over-served by hotels.

"While it's great to see the sector developing and expecting increasing numbers of visitors, it's important to be aware of over-capacity," he added.

"Businesses need to be careful not to over-extend themselves as financial problems can quickly trip up a company's success."

The sector received a knock earlier this month when KPMG was appointed administrators to the Balmoral Hotel in Dunmurry.

But KPMG said the hotel was staying open for all business during the administration and that the workforce of 120 would remain intact for the time being.

It is expected that KPMG will put the hotel on the market.

The Balmoral is the first major hotel business in Northern Ireland to go into administration since a gradual economic recovery began in 2012.

The hotel was operated by Balmoral Inns, a partnership of John and Roisin McIlhone and Emma Walsh.

Belfast Telegraph