Belfast Telegraph

Hotel firm Hastings sees pre-tax profits fall by almost 40%

Newcomer: Grand Central Hotel
Newcomer: Grand Central Hotel
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Pre-tax profits at family-run hotel group Hastings have fallen by nearly 40% to £3.2m after the opening of its £40m Grand Central in Belfast.

But turnover at the group, which operates a total of seven hotels here, was up 4% from £39.6m to £41.2m during the year to October 2018. Staff numbers also went up, from 1,106 to 1,244.

The directors of the group said the financial position of the hotel was "satisfactory".

A strategic report filed with the accounts said: "The group will continue to seek every opportunity to increase profitable turnover."

The 38.46% fall in pre-tax profits from £5.2m last year followed a £3m increase in administrative expenses.

Hastings chairman Edward Carson, who had been its finance director for nearly 50 years, said there were opening expenses, increases in depreciation and increased interest on borrowings following the opening of the Grand Central, Northern Ireland's largest hotel.

The company last week celebrated one year since the venue's opening on Bedford Street.

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Its company report said it continued to face challenges including competition from other licensed premises and hotels, as well as staff retention.

Hastings also owns Belfast's Stormont and Europa hotels, the Culloden near Holywood, as well as the Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Ballygally near Larne and the Everglades in Londonderry. It also has a 50% share in Dublin's luxury Merrion Hotel.

Company founder and former chairman Sir Billy Hastings died in December 2017. The business is led by his son, Howard, who is chief executive.

During its first year, the Grand Central has welcomed Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Irish President Michael D Higgins, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Secretary of State Karen Bradley and stars including Shania Twain, Jodie Kidd and Jamie Dornan.

Belfast Telegraph

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