Merrion Hotel still operating at a loss as Hastings returns to profit

Northern Irish group, which is a 50% shareholder in Dublin hotel, saw business in North bounce back

A co-owner of the five star Merrion Hotel returned to profit last year, recording pretax earnings of £679,674 (€786,977) after losses of €16.5 million in 2020. But it is still losing money on the high-profile Dublin hotel.

New accounts lodged by the Northern Ireland-based Hastings Hotels Holdings Ltd show an 11 per cent recovery in revenues to £27.99 million in the 12 months to end-October. But it is still battling the ravages of Covid-19, with those improved revenues still 43 per cent down on the £49.37 million it brought in before the pandemic in 2019.

The group’s hotels include the Europa Hotel, the Grand Central hotel and the Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast.

The group’s hotels reopened for business on May 24th, 2021, as Covid-19 restrictions eased. “Following a turbulent number of years for all businesses, particularly those in the tourism industry, we are pleased to report we are on track in our post-Covid recovery plan,” finance director Peter Gibson said on Tuesday.

He said the business had continued to invest in its people and its properties.

“We have worked hard to attract the domestic and Republic of Ireland markets, and now, with the international visitors starting to return and our forward bookings for the summer looking very positive, we are committed to building on this in the months ahead,” he said.

The accounts disclose that the group received “other operating income” of £6.3 million through government grants. They also note that it recorded a £294,043 (€340,475) loss on its joint venture — the 50 per cent share in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

Numbers employed fell from 1,161 to 934, with staff costs falling from £14.34 million to £11.62 million.

Directors’ pay last year increased from £1.14 million to £1.32 million, made up of £1.2 million in pay and £51,389 in pension contributions. The highest-paid director received pay of £274,005, which includes pension payments of £52,630.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times