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Dalata to end Irish hotel buying this year and expand UK business

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Dermot Crowley, Deputy CEO 'Business Development and Finance, DALATA plc with Pat McCann, CEO, DALATA Hotel Group plc. Photo: Nick Bradshaw

Dermot Crowley, Deputy CEO 'Business Development and Finance, DALATA plc with Pat McCann, CEO, DALATA Hotel Group plc. Photo: Nick Bradshaw

Dermot Crowley, Deputy CEO 'Business Development and Finance, DALATA plc with Pat McCann, CEO, DALATA Hotel Group plc. Photo: Nick Bradshaw

The biggest indigenous buyer of commercial hotels since the crash is set to turn its attention to the UK as it winds down its purchasing in Ireland.

 

Dalata has bought a string of hotels in recent years, to the point that it now controls more than 5,000 rooms in Ireland.

But it plans to wind down its shopping spree in Ireland this year, and instead will focus on expanding into the United Kingdom.

That will have big ramifications for the Irish hotel market. While the top end of the market has attracted numerous international buyers, Dalata has specialised in mid-market three and four star hotels in Dublin, but also in the regions.

As Dalata ends its interest in new deals, it will remove one of the main buyers from a market that has been much slower to recover than the upper echelons of the hospitality sector.

At the top end of the market, international investors have eagerly snapped up the likes of the Westin Hotel and Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin, but there has been less interest in assets outside Dublin, especially those in the €10-15m price range, where Dalata has done a number of deals.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dalata deputy chief executive Dermot Crowley said the company was now turning its attention firmly to the UK, where the company has five hotels.

"We'd expect to have finished buying in Ireland by the end of this year," he said.

"We have a warchest of about €130m for acquisitions but we will only use it if there is value in the market.

"A lot of the senior management team were involved in Jurys Inn, which built a huge footprint in the UK, so we have that expertise to draw on when the time comes," he added.

The company is known to be targeting a number of sites around Dublin to build new hotels and Mr Crowley believes it will have secured at least one of those sites by early summer. Company chief executive Pat McCann has said previously that competition for development sites in Dublin is fierce and that the firm was unlikely to secure every site it bids for.

Last week Dalata acquired the leasehold on four hotels for around €40m, including the Gibson Hotel in the Point Village in Dublin and the Clarion Hotel in Cork.

Dalata already owned the freehold on the Clarion but Mr Crowley said the deal would simplify its operations there and add to earnings.

Shares in Dalata will open today at €4.90

In Numbers

€130m - Warchest Dalata has for new acquisitions

€40m - Amount it paid last week for the leasehold on four hotels

5 - Number of hotels in the UK it is involved in

Irish Independent