Hotels group Andras sees its profits increase to £3m
Andras House - one of Northern Ireland's biggest hotel groups - has increased its profits to £3m as it continues to expand its business here.
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The group - which is owned by Indian-born businessman Lord Rana - saw profits increase by around 12% in the year to April 30, 2015. The business's turnover remained almost flat for the same period, sitting at £16.1m.
Andras cut its staff numbers during the last year. Employee numbers fell by 31 to 220 for the same financial period.
The value of its assets also remained roughly steady, slipping slightly to just under £79m.
Andras House owns five hotels in Belfast, including the Holiday Inn Express, the Ramada Plaza, two Ibis hotels and Holiday Inn, formerly Days Hotel.
But just last week the green light was given for another new hotel from the group.
Belfast will get a new hotel brand, when the Hampton by Hilton sets up at Hope Street in the city centre.
Managing director Rajesh Rana told the Belfast Telegraph he was pleased with the latest results and "cautiously optimistic" that 2016 is "looking very good".
"We had a solid year up to the end of April 2015. The hotels' trading assets are generally up on the previous year.
"The calender year was pretty strong and we are cautiously optimistic that 2016 is looking very good, with a note of caution."
He said some numbers were impacted by work at the rebranded Holiday Inn, and with some tenants moving out of one of the company's office buildings. Mr Rana said he expected work would start on the new Hampton hotel in April, and that the business would see growth in its next set of accounts.
"We are on the second phase of upgrading the Holiday Inn and we are also refurbishing the Ramada Plaza."
In the latest accounts, the company says it is "confident that the group will continue to grow and seek new development opportunities, subject to the availability of bank funding".
The amount paid to the company directors increased in 2015, rising from £222,000 to £301,000. The top paid director received £135,000.
The Andras House business began life in 1981, with the refurbishment of a Victorian factory in Belfast city centre, during a time when there was little appetite for investment.
Founder Lord Diljit Rana moved to Northern Ireland in 1966 - after spending three years in England, following his move from India.
Trained as an economist, he found getting suitable work impossible. He began working in factories and had a stint as a postman before making the move to Northern Ireland.
He ran a number of businesses before buying his first hotel.
Andras House also invested in hotels during the recession, building two new Ibis Hotels in 2009. Andras is run by Lord Rana's sons, managing director Rajesh, and his brother Ramesh.