Sunday 22 July 2018

Hotel management group Prem weighs selling mature asset to fund growth

Jim Murphy, chief executive, PREM Group. Picture: Naoise Culhane
Jim Murphy, chief executive, PREM Group. Picture: Naoise Culhane
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Prem Group, the Irish hotel management company, which last week acquired the Aspect Hotel in Kilkenny, is to focus on Northern Europe in its next phase of expansion.

The company will open Premier Suites, which are serviced apartments, in Antwerp in September. Another new Premier Suites property will open Amsterdam late next year. The company opened its first premises in the Netherlands, in Rotterdam last year. "The big push is into Northern Europe at this stage," said Prem Group chief executive Jim Murphy. A debt facility that the business has from its Swedish funder Proventus Capital Partners has now been used up and he said that the group was reluctant to take on more debt.

"Any future acquisitions will be done through our own cash resources and we may look at the possibility of a sale of a mature asset and use that cash to continue to grow the business," he told the Sunday Independent

The business is spread between Ireland, the UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It has a European head office in Ghent in Belgium. Six of its owned properties are in Ireland and one is in the UK. In total, the company manages 50 properties including hotels, aparthotels and suites.

"Our strategy for the last few years has been to try and acquire hotels that we have been operating under management contract or leaseholding and secure their long-term income into the group and also strengthen the balance sheet."

But Murphy said he thought the business was probably finished with Irish acquisitions for the moment: "Although that could change if the right opportunity comes along. Outside of Dublin there is probably still a little bit of value but none of the hotels we are operating in Ireland are currently for sale," Murphy said.

Aspect was a hotel that Premgroup had been leasing. "The opportunity came up over the last few months to acquire the hotel off market and convert the leasehold into freehold," he added.

Other hotels acquired by the group are the Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney; Tulfarris Hotel, Co Wicklow; the Osprey Hotel, Naas; Premier Suites, Leeson Street; Merrion Hall, Ballsbridge (now Premier Suites); and Leopold Hotel in Sheffield, England.

"We have 50 hotels in the business between owned, managed and leased and we've had quite a few leasehold openings in the last few years," said Murphy.

He added that the firm has opened a second Premier Suites in Glasgow in the last few weeks.

Sunday Indo Business

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