Macdonald Hotels to embark on historic upgrade programme after slashing debts

Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel, Aberfoyle. Picture: Adrian WrothMacdonald Forest Hills Hotel, Aberfoyle. Picture: Adrian Wroth
Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel, Aberfoyle. Picture: Adrian Wroth
Macdonald Hotels has slashed its debt pile and returned a headline profit following a major disposal programme.

The Scottish hotel operator is also embarking on its largest property upgrade programme in two decades.

Annual results show that the group benefited from a series of strategic disposals which raised £78 million, enabling the business to post annual profits of £29.2m for the year to October 1, 2020.

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The results reveal the benefits of a planned deleverage strategy that has included selling the Rusacks Hotel, St Andrews, and the leasehold interest in the Randolph Hotel, Oxford, further reducing borrowings in the last financial year from £195m to £125m.

Current net bank debt, following sales of the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh and the Macdonald Manchester Hotel in November 2021, is now £28m, the lowest since the company was taken back into private ownership in 2003.

Despite a like-for-like operating loss of £36.9m for the 53 weeks to October 1, 2020, compared to a profit of £16.2m for the 18 months to September 2019, chairman Gordon Fraser said the disposal strategy had left the business in the “strongest financial position of the past two decades”.

He added: “We have an enviable range of fantastic assets and, following our refinancing, we will be embarking upon our largest reinvestment and refurbishment programme since 2003. It’s an incredibly exciting and ambitious project, and one which will build upon our unrivalled portfolio.

“We expect to be able to give further details of our plans for a range of individual hotels in the next few months.”

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