Brexit pros and cons for Crieff Hydro hotel group

Crieff Hydro has seen millions of pounds of investment.

Pre-tax profits at the Crieff Hydro hotel group rose by 60% last year despite tough trading conditions in the sector.

Overall turnover in the company — which owns six hotels and operates four more under management contracts — rose by 12% to £27.1 million for the year ending February 28.

Pre-tax profits for the year were £423,000, up from £265,000 the previous year.

The Crieff Hydro operation alone saw a slight dip in its revenues from £20m to £19.7m as the directors continued to invest in the resort infrastructure. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell from £3.2m to £2.9m.

More than £1m was invested into the Crieff Hydro resort and Murraypark Hotels during the year.

The company said it planned to continue its capital investment programme at similar or greater levels in the current financial year.

A drive to grow occupancy and rate levels at Peebles Hydro saw its pre-tax losses reduce by £88,000 to £315,000 as refurbishment work continued.

Chief executive officer Stephen Leckie said Brexit had provided challenges and opportunities.

He said: “Whilst there are a few worries for all hoteliers, there’s no doubt that there are also great opportunities.

“There’s the upside to Brexit and from demographic changes and alterations in customer desires, needs and habits.

“We’ve seen that in some excellent figures — boosted by a growing trend for holidays at home helped by exchange rates.

“Having said that, the gains have by-and-large been cancelled out in our financial performance by economic factors and dramatically increased costs in some areas like business rates.

“This is alongside fragile business and consumer confidence.”

Mr Leckie ran up against Perth and Kinross Council officials in trying to get plans for a new £100m holiday resort called Crieff East approved.

In March The Courier revealed that employees were being offered voluntary redundancy as it responded to mounting costs.

“For us, we’ve faced up to the challenge of restructuring different parts of our business but I’m convinced that taking this action — whether it’s reducing our running costs, improving our IT infrastructure or increasing/maintaining investment for customers — is key to the future,” Mr Leckie added.

“The worst thing we could do is sit on our hands. The team and I have taken early decisive action as the landscape changes is what I think matters most.”