Belfast Telegraph

McKeever Hotel group making plans for future as turnover climbs by 17% to £7.64m

By Margaret Canning

Family firm McKeever Hotel Group has reported a 17% increase in turnover to £7.64m but is concerned about future competition from new hotels.

Gross profit at the group, which owns four hotels, was up 16% from £4.8m to £5.6m.

But pre-tax profits were down from £0.9m to £0.7m during the year to September 2015.

Company founder and managing director Eugene McKeever said the decline was due to depreciation after the company spent approximately €2m on refurbishments of its latest acquisition, Dillons Hotel in Letterkenny in the Republic.

The company also owns the Dunsilly Hotel in Antrim, Corrs Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey and Adair Arms in Ballymena.

Mr McKeever said: "It was a fairly decent year for us, but our profits were down due to depreciation following refurbishments."

He added that the company had improved the bar and grill at Dunsilly Hotel, as well as the bar, grill and reception areas at Corrs Corner.

According to a report filed at Companies House, approximately £6.4m in sales related to sales made in the UK, with £1.2m relating to sales at the Co Donegal hotel.

The business also employed 200 people during the year - up from 189 the year before.

A directors' report said: "During the year the main activities of the group remained unchanged and the directors anticipate that any future development would relate to these activities.

"Cost control remains a focus for management heading into the next financial year."

But the report added that the company faced risks, including "the continued instability of the economy, in particular the local economy, which affects the corporate sales market".

"There has been an increase in competition, such as new hotel bedrooms in Belfast," it said.

The firm also pointed to rising food and energy costs in the year to September 2015.

"The inability to increase prices to our customers causes our profit margins to be continually squeezed," it said.

But the company added that it was vigilant about managing its costs. "We are aware of the risks the hotels face and the plans for mitigating these risks are reviewed frequently," it said.

"These plans include diversifying by growing the accommodation, conference and banqueting business. The group is well positioned to grow turnover in the coming years."

Around 20 new hotels for Belfast are in the planning system.

The ventures include Hastings Hotels' new Grand Central in Bedford Street, Beannchor's Bullitt Hotel - at the site formerly occupied by Lagan House - as well as a new boutique hotel from MM Developments at Bank Square.

Mr McKeever said: "Competition is going to grow, but we hope that demand will increase accordingly. Tourism has been very good this year, and the corporate market has improved.

"We will just keep working on it so that we can our product very strong and make sure our staff are well-trained."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.