Dalata, the country's biggest hotel group and the owner of the Maldron and Clayton brands, says it will add a further "4,000 or 5,000" rooms to its total portfolio of 7,700 over the next five-to-seven years.
The group, which has 42 hotels in Ireland and Britain, on Wednesday reported a 2015 pre-tax profit of €28.5 million and a 185 per cent jump in revenues to more than €225 million.
Pat McCann, its founder and chief executive, says it will focus most of its future growth efforts in the UK, where it currently has almost 1,800 Maldron and Clayton rooms.
The company, which operates about 4,500 rooms under the two brands in Ireland. is also seeking to add up to 1,000 more rooms to its portfolio in Dublin, where it already has a fifth of the market.
Almost half of the group’s portfolio, which also includes a number of mangement contracts on behalf of bank-controlled hotels, is currently concentrated on the capital.
“We need to finish out the Irish project, but it is coming to a close,” said Mr McCann. He added that it may seek to develop up to six new-build hotels in Dublin, including the 181-bedroom property it is planning for a site it recently acquired on Dublin’s Grand Canal in the south of the city.
It will partner with a developer, probably McAleer & Rushe, to build new hotels in the UK, where its focus is on large cities outside of London, such as Manchester and Birmingham.
Mr McCann rejected suggestions that hotel room prices in Dublin were escalating too quickly, and said the capital’s prices were still low when considered alongside comparable cities.
Dalata’s Dublin hotels boosted revenue per available room by almost a quarter over the year, which it attributed to tourism numbers and an improved domestic economy.
Mr McCann also highlighted that big corporate clients are helping drive the Dublin hotel sector forward. For example, he said, Google would need in the region of 35,000 roomnights in the capital this year.
During 2015, Dalata invested €558.8 million in the acquisition of 15 hotels throughout Ireland and the UK including €452.3 million on nine Moran Bewley hotels in February 2015.
The group said trading in the first two months of 2016 has been stronger than expected in Ireland, and in line with expectations in the UK. It said sterling weakness may have a negative impact on the euro performance of its UK hotels.
The company this year completed the purchase of the Tara Towers Hotel in Dublin for €13.2 million, exchanged contracts to purchase Clarion Hotel Sligo for €13.1 million and purchased a site in the centre of Dublin for €11.9 million.
The Irish-listed hotel group this week signalled its intention to bid for the historic Gresham Hotel which has been put on the market, although Mr McCann said on Wednesday it expects to be outbid by foreign investors for the property.
“We don’t do trophy assets,” he said.
He also confirmed Dalata has "zero interest" in buying the DIT Cathal Brugha Street hotel school, located directly behiond the Gresham, for redevelopment as a hotel, mooted in some quarters as a possibility for the property.
Dalata, founded in June 2007, is the biggest hotel operator in Ireland. In March 2014, it raised €265 million in a listing on the AIM market in London and the ESM in Dublin.
It also raised almost €500 million last year in debt and equity.