The company behind Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin paid out dividends of €500,000 to its parent, Tifco last year. The payments came in a period where the hotel's profits declined by 90 per cent, it laid off staff and availed of Government Covid supports.
In response to a query from The Irish Times, Tifco stressed that the payment of dividends was halted once the pandemic struck locally.
“The dividend was paid in January and February before the Covid-19 situation emerged and once we saw the challenges faced from March onwards no further payments were made,” said Tifco managing director Enda O’Meara.
Accounts just filed for Clontarf Castle Ltd indicate it received nearly €470,000 in Covid supports from the State last year. The hotel’s employee numbers dropped from 177 to 62 during the year.
Turnover at the four-star hotel fell to €4.1 million in 2020 from €12.5 million in 2019 due to the Covid crisis and the forced closure of the venue throughout much of the year. Its pretax profit declined form €3.6 million to just €381,010.
The hotel said that like many businesses it had laid off staff and reduced working hours for those who were retained because of the Covid crisis. This brought staff-related costs down to €1.7 million compared with €3.9 million in 2019.
“We did not know what a difficult situation Covid would become for our sector at that time and furthermore what Government supports would evolve, when we were in January/February/March. We are indeed grateful for the Government supports, [but] that said it was an extremely difficult year [with] our profits down 90 per cent, even with those supports,” Mr O’Meara said.
Last year’s dividend payment compared with payments of €2.5 million in the previous year.
The net assets of Clontarf Castle Limited stood at €11.4 million at the end of December last versus €11.6 million in the prior year.
Clontarf Castle is a redeveloped 12th century castle with more than 100 rooms.
The wider Tifco group last year secured the €5.4 million contract for hosting arrivals into the State who were forced to quarantine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the Republic’s second largest hotels operator behind Dalata, with more than 20 hotels in its portfolio.
Accounts for the Tifco group show it made a loss of €1.1 million last year while turnover declined to €11.9 million from €36.5 million a year earlier. No dividend was paid by Tifco Ltd, which is owned by a Luxembourg entity that is owned and managed by various Apollo funds.