Sunday 19 November 2017

Checking in at one of the largest hotels in Galway

Company Focus: Connacht Hotel

Shany Livingstone of The Connacht Hotel, Galway
Shany Livingstone of The Connacht Hotel, Galway

The Connacht Hotel, located just outside Galway city centre, has become one of the largest hotels in the west of Ireland with over 350 bedrooms, as well as a large number of meeting rooms, a leisure centre, bar and restaurants.

The hotel was originally built in 1969 and rebranded as the Connacht Hotel in 2012 after it was purchased and restructured by its current owners. Its general manager and co-owner, Shay Livingstone, credits the company's recent success to the rebrand.

Management worked closely with some key members of staff to plan and activate a robust marketing plan to reinforce the new brand identity for the hotel and differentiate it in what is a popular tourist market.

The company invested in a tactical above-the-line campaign that included national radio, television and print campaigns. It also identified a strategic sports sponsorship platform and established a significant web presence.

The Connacht Hotel has also leveraged its location in Galway, a city well known for its festival, friendliness and atmosphere.

Transport links to the city have improved and it provides for easy access to some of Ireland's most stunning landscapes, including Connemara, the Aran Islands, the Burren or the hugely successful Wild Atlantic Way.

Managing the cost base has also been critical to the hotel's success since its rebrand. The business was run as lean as possible through the downturn, and as a result, it was able to offer competitive rates to customers to sustain business in tougher economic times.

The Connacht Hotel has recently acquired An Pucan, a traditional Irish pub located on Forster Street in Galway city centre as part of its initial expansion.

 

Colin Feely Audit Partner, Grant Thornton writes: This is a sector that has undergone substantial change, with many challenges facing operators in the market in relation to investment and trading conditions.

This has led to a number of hotels in the Irish market having to restructure their businesses in order to attract custom in what has become a very competitive environment.

We have witnessed this in many of the companies that we work with in this sector, we work with approximately 25pc of the Dublin hotel market and approximately 10pc of the national hotel market, advising on how they can scale their business.

In working with the hotel, we provide them with access to real tangible benchmark analytics that enables the management team to compare and contrast the performance of the business against peer operators at a regional and national level. Using those analytics, we work with Shay and his management team to provide advice from across our audit, tax and restructuring practice areas at various levels of his business to drive growth.

 

Sasha Kerins Tax Director, Grant Thornton writes: In order to work effectively with a new client like Connacht Hotel, it is important to understand the underlying business, the structuring needs of their business and the future plans of its shareholders and management.

To structure the business going forward it is imperative to gain an understanding of the current structures in place and the tax history behind these structures.

This is to ensure that any future changes that are made do not create tax costs based on historic treatment. To achieve this we have worked closely with the Connacht Hotel management team to document and understand the current tax positions across all relevant tax heads.

With this in hand, we are now in a position to support them in putting in place an effective tax structure that can assist them in their future operations and as they grow this hotel business in the future.

Also, as the hotel business expands, any refurbishment plans that may be considered will be closely analysed from a tax perspective to ensure that all expenditure qualifying for tax deductions can be captured and supported.

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