Man behind Jurys makeover has few reservations
John Brennan oversaw a financial restructuring that reduced Jurys Inn’s debt by 60 per cent and has set his sights on long-term growth
“We’re not interested in one or two-year deals. We want 10-year deals where we can invest the time and energy to get the businesses up to the level required. We’re looking for targeted growth in specific locations where we believe there will be strong businesses. We’re in no rush.”
Jurys Inn once had ambitious plans to grow the chain in central and eastern Europe. The global economic downturn and financial constraints have resulted in it only planting its flag in Prague with a 219-bedroom hotel via management contract with the property’s owners, Dublin-based Avestus Capital Partners.
Avestus is a shareholder in Jurys Inn, with many of its executives having previously been involved in Quinlan Private at the time of the transaction in 2007.
Has Brennan given up on continental Europe? “Prague is actually performing extremely well. It delivers a very high occupancy rate and delivers good profitability. The focus [for growth] is the UK. There are no plans to develop in continental Europe.”
Jurys Inn has a site in Budapest, next to the city’s opera house. “If market conditions in Budapest improve obviously that’s something we’ll look at. The site is there and available to us and it’s probably one of the best sites for a three-star/four star hotel in that market.”
The hospitality industry is in Brennan’s blood. His late father, Michael, opened the Burlington, Berkeley Court and Westbury in Dublin for the old Doyle group, and his brother Michael is general manager at the five-star Europe hotel in Killarney. John and his family are “staycationing” their this summer.
Brennan spent his spare time odd jobbing around the hotels his father ran before taking a four-year hotel and management degree college course at Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin.
In 1984, he became a management trainee with the Canadian Four Seasons hotel group. He spent 23 years with Four Seasons, climbing through the ranks and working in eight countries. He returned home to oversee the launch of its Dublin property in Ballsbridge in 2001 before joining Quinlan Private as director of hospitality and leisure six years later. In December 2008 he was parachuted into Jurys Inn by Quinlan to run the business.
I check out of the interview by asking Brennan to gaze into his crystal ball and predict the future for Jurys Inn.
“I’m very positive about the future. Thus far, 2013 in the UK has seen an improvement. The Irish market has been quite positive. We’re seeing RevPar [revenue per available room] growth in the UK that’s in the five per cent mark. It’s been a long time coming.
“The corporate market is strong and we see that continuing. We’re looking forward to another year of record revenue and profit growth in 2013.
“We now have a capital structure that is appropriate and we can look forward to growing and developing the business in the years ahead to build on what we’ve done already with new initiatives to build the financial performance and to build the reputation of the company as an operator of mid-market hotels.”
CV John Brennan
Name: John Brennan
Job: Chief executive, Jurys Inn hotel chain
Married to Doris with a new-born daughter Libby
Hobbies:“I play tennis. I don’t have time for much else these days.”
Something we might expect:With a new born child in the family, he’s
had a number of sleepless nights lately.
Something that might surprise: “I am very keen on aviation and I like go
to the flight simulator in Heathrow airport from time to time
[to fly Boeing 737s] . It’s a quirky love affair with aviation.”