Cliveden, the company that operates the upmarket 37-bedroom Cliveden hotel in Buckinghamshire, has formally announced it is to seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The much-heralded move by the company (first mooted in Caterer on 22 April 1993) has been made to raise about £8m, which will give it funds for further acquisitions.
John Lewis, Cliveden's chairman, told Caterer the group was in advanced stages to acquire another London property of 50-100 bedrooms. "We want a substantial London property as part of the development of a group of distinctive hotels," he said.
In October last year, the company paid £3.2m to acquire the 25-bedroom Draycott in London's Cadogan Gardens. This hotel is undergoing a £900,000 refurbishment, which will be completed in May when it will be renamed the Cliveden Town House.
Discussions to acquire another London club are also under way, although Mr Lewis said this was at an early stage. For the future, he said he was keen to secure hotels in Paris, Dublin and Edinburgh.
The company's plans to develop a hotel in Prague, in the Czech Republic, are still set to move ahead, despite a court case under the country's restitution laws (which enable Czech citizens to reclaim property seized under the Communist regime). Mr Lewis admitted there would be at least a two-year delay with this project.
The company began operating the former stately home, which it describes as one of the world's top three hotels, in 1985 when it secured a lease from the National Trust.
During the year ended 31 October 1995, the company achieved pre-tax profits of £1.4m from sales of £6.4m.
Bedroom occupancy was 72.8% for the period and achieved room rate was £245.
Mr Lewis is confident about maintaining profits from a company operating at the luxury end of the market.
"We increased occupancy and room rate every year between 1990 and 1995, the worst downturn in the hotel industry I can remember," he said.
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