* No longer trading
MWB Group Holdings was a property investment firm that owned or operated two quite distinct UK boutique hotel brands, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, which it purchased in 2000 and 2004 respectively. MWB went into administration in late 2012 and sold the two chains as the Malmaison Group to US private equity firm KSL in March 2013.
The company was co-founded in 1994 by Richard Balfour Lynn as property investment group Marylebone Warwick Balfour.
One side of its hotel business was to construct or develop properties that it either pre-sold to companies such as Accor or kept for a period while they ran under management agreements with operators such as Rezidor, Marriott and Swissôtel. However, its focus increasingly came to centre on Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
Both chains were created to offer style at an affordable price along with a premium food and wine offer they continued to preserve their unique. Although they shared central reservations, marketing and purchasing functions, they operated separately to preserve their unique identities.
The larger Malmaison hotels were positioned as contemporary, city-centre lifestyle hotels while the smaller Hotel du Vins were more likely to be found in cathedral or university towns.
Under MWB, Malmaison grew from five to 12 sites, while Hotel du Vin expanded to 14 properties from the original eight it had purchased (including two in the pipeline). MWB also introduced a couple of Pub du Vins and experimented with a standalone restaurant format (Bistro du Vin) which was abandoned.
Initially, MWB owned the freeholds on all its boutique hotels (except for the Oxford Malmaison) but began seeking sale-and-leaseback and management agreements to drive expansion from 2007 following three failed attempts to sell the brands in 18 months. The first attempt included the two brands as part of a £2.6b package of hotel assets that would have been the UK’s first hotel REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) had it succeeded.
MWB also owned the Liberty retail store in London between 2000 and 2010, along with serviced office provider MWB Business Exchange, which was sold to rival group Regus for £65.6m in February 2013.
In December 2005, the directors of MWB set up a separate company, Alternative Hotel Group, to acquire Initial Style Conferences and, the following year, the De Vere Group. This business remained separate from MWB.
MORE LINKS ON CATERERANDHOTELKEEPER.CO.UK
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (2011): Richard Balfour-Lynn
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (2011): Robert Cook
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (2010): Richard Balfour-Lynn
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (2010): Robert Cook
Interview: Richard Balfour-Lynn on De Vere, Malmaison and Searcys