Crieff Hydro investing to face off 'storm clouds' after annual profits jump

The group, which last year celebrated its 150th anniversary, reported growth across its six-strong portfolio. Picture: contributed.
The group, which last year celebrated its 150th anniversary, reported growth across its six-strong portfolio. Picture: contributed.
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Crieff Hydro, which bills itself as Scotland’s oldest registered trading company, has reported stronger annual figures – but warned over continued Brexit uncertainty.

The group, which last year celebrated its 150th anniversary, reported growth across its six-strong portfolio in the year to 28 February.

In addition to the results for the Crieff Hydro company (Crieff Hydro Hotel and the Murraypark Hotel), the accounts include figures for Peebles Hydro Hotel and the Park, along with the Ballachulish and Isles Glencoe Hotel and Crieff Hydro’s management company that now encompasses the Kingshouse Hotel in Glencoe.

Revenue was up by more than 4 per cent across the board to exceed £31 million.

Core earnings rose by 3 per cent to overtake £3.6m, with pre-tax profit up more than a fifth at nearly £1.2m. The group flagged “noticeable strides” at Peebles Hydro, with profits more than doubling in the company’s fifth year of ownership.

However, company directors continued to report caution linked to Brexit uncertainties, and concerns over potential tourism taxes and air passenger duty.

Nonetheless, they highlighted causes for optimism such as continued strong demand for Scotland, the positive Brexit effects of staycations and the attraction of a weak pound for overseas visitors.

Crieff Hydro boss Stephen Leckie,who has chaired the Scottish Tourism Alliance for nine years and was recently named president of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed progress by the business despite "tough" market conditions.

“All our hotels have continued to grow but who knows what’s around the corner. With this in mind and a good year behind us, we’ve decided to up our investment again across our family to be certain that we’re ahead of the curve. This means that customers can not only expect to see fully refurbished bedrooms but significant new facilities across the family of hotels."

These include a gin school and distillery opening in Peebles this autumn, while by Easter 2020 the group plans to have a new large-scale adventure park open at Crieff Hydro.

Leckie added: “These are bold moves whilst the storm clouds keep gathering but we’re convinced this puts us in a better position to ride through any storm and be stronger on the other side. Our figures may well take a dip next year with so much work going on against the backdrop of a nervy economic picture - but we believe what we’re doing is right for the long term.”