Pillo talk as hotels group predicts profits


PILLO HOTELS, which is backed by Irish private equity group Ion Equity, is poised to move into the black this year.

Accounts just filed for Pillo Hotels Ltd show it made a loss of €72,039 in 2011, roughly half the deficit recorded in the previous year.

Ion’s hotels director Conal O’Neill, who spent 15 years with Jurys Doyle hotels, says the financial performance for the four-star operator has improved this year.

“The company’s still in the investment phase but it will make a profit this year,” he predicts.

Pillo operates three hotels in Ireland under management contracts – Pillo Hotel Spa Galway, Pillo Hotel Spa Ashbourne (a former Marriott) and Hotel Ballina (previously a Ramada).

O’Neill wants to add to the portfolio here but with projects that offer a bit more security of tenure, such as a lease.

The former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels in Ballsbridge are currently up for grabs on a five-year lease. Is Pillo interested? “It’s one that we’re looking at,” O’Neill confirms.

Pat McCann of Dalata Ltd is the incumbent there having run the hotels for the Ulster Bank-led consortium of lenders to Seán Dunne for the past year.

Pillo’s original plan envisaged properties in the UK. Is that still a runner?

“The original plan was to do something in the UK but at the moment we’re focusing on opportunities in Ireland.”

O’Neill gives a frank assessment of the state of the sector here.

“Who knows what the future is? That’s a genuine answer. There’s a plethora of stakeholders with an interest in the sector, with banks and receivers and so on. There is the prospect of more consolidation in the sector and we’d like to be part of that.”

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