THE NEW owners of Gleneagles Hotel have pledged to plough “significant sums” into the Perthshire venue following its sale by spirits giant Diageo.
After months of talks, the Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff producer has sold the hotel and golf courses to a group of private investors led by London-based hospitality group Ennismore.
We have enjoyed a great relationship with Diageo over three decades.Gleneagles boss Bernard Murphy
The value of the deal was not disclosed, but is understood to be worth up to £200 million. Ennismore – owner of London’s Hoxton Hotel – said it would be retaining the management and 900-strong workforce at the venue, which hosted last year’s Ryder Cup.
Sharan Pasricha, founder and chief executive of Ennismore, said: “We plan to operate Gleneagles as a standalone business – alongside the Hoxton – to ensure that its management team can preserve the special appeal of this Scottish landmark. We will be proud guardians of this asset, ensuring that the service levels and visitor experience for which Gleneagles is renowned are preserved and enhanced in the years to come.”
Gleneagles, which opened its doors in 1924, has more than 230 bedrooms, 850 acres of grounds and three championship golf course. It was owned by British Rail until 1981, when it was sold to a consortium of Scottish businessmen. In 1984 the resort was bought by Perth-based distiller Arthur Bell & Sons, which was acquired by Guinness the following year, before both were absorbed into Diageo.
Gleneagles managing director Bernard Murphy said: “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Diageo over the last three decades, culminating in the hosting of what has been described as the best-ever Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary Course last September. The business is going from strength to strength and bookings for the summer are strong. This is in no so small part thanks to the hard work of our team of 900 dedicated staff. In the meantime, it’s very much business as usual for our members, staff and guests, and forward bookings will be unaffected.”
During the year to 30 June 2014, Gleneagles generated revenues of £43.5m and made an operating profit of £2.6m.
Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said the drinks group was “proud” to have owned the venue for the past three decades “but the hotel is not a core business for us and therefore following the success of the Ryder Cup we feel this is an appropriate time to realise value through this transaction”.
He added: “I am pleased that Diageo’s brands, especially our Scotch brands, will continue to be an important feature at this iconic Scottish hotel. We wish Ennismore and all the staff at the hotel a successful future.”
The deal was welcomed by Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, who said: “Tourism is a vital part of the Scottish economy, creating jobs and sustaining communities.
“We are particularly pleased that Ennismore has recognised, and clearly values, the important role this resort plays both locally and nationally by making an early pledge to invest ‘significant sums across this estate’ to build on Gleneagles’ reputation.”
Ennismore, founded in 2011, owns two Hoxton hotels in London and the brand will this month expand overseas with a site in Amsterdam, with further projects planned in New York and Paris.
l A Highland tourism business that includes four hotels and a medieval castle is being sold as the founder retires almost 40 years after starting out with a single property.
Former merchant seaman Ian Cleaver started Highland Heritage in the mid-1970s when he bought the Royal Hotel in Tyndrum, and built it into an £8m turnover company that uses its own fleet of 16 liveried coaches to bus tourists to the hotels in Tyndrum, Dalmally and Oban. Colliers International is inviting offers and has not named a price.