Dalata had discipline to succeed in difficult times
DALATA'S listing on the stock exchange says a lot about Ireland's economic evolution.
The hotel sector went nothing short of mad in the boom. Seduced by a willing public, enamoured by travel and luxury, people piled into the hotel business.
We all know how that turned out. The recession wiped out any hoteliers who weren't quite on top of their finances.
Dalata, in contrast, couldn't be more different. Its people know the industry inside out; founder Pat McCann, above, is the former boss of the Jurys Doyle Group.
The hotel operator has grown in a lean and opportunistic manner, wringing impressive profits from the properties it leases. Note that word: leases. It doesn't own any hotels. Growing a hotel business without indulging in a bit of property speculation yourself is an impressive feat, one that demonstrates discipline.
The restaurant industry has had a similar experience. Dublin's shoddy restaurants were packed to the gills in the boom – and closed in droves as the recession bit. But this presented opportunities for innovators. The end result is that Ireland's restaurant scene is now more vibrant than ever.
The hotel industry hasn't quite caught up. It is still mired in debt, with one in seven hotels connected to NAMA in some way. There has been only one significant new launch in Dublin in the last five years, Grand Canal Dock's The Marker Hotel.
But the signs of a recovery are there. Disciplined, experienced companies like Dalata, which has suddenly found itself with a quarter-of-a-billion euro to invest in Irish hotels, will be the ones driving it.