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MWB Group Holdings*

Description :

* 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.

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Time Line :

THE 2010s



  • November 2004 MWB sells the five-star Howard hotel in London for £75m to Samosir. It continues to be managed by Swissotel.
  • October 2004 MWB buys the six-strong Hotel du Vin chain for £66.4m from entrepreneurs Robin Hutson and Gerard Basset, 10 years to the day after its creation in 1994. The group has a seventh hotel in the pipeline which opens in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire in March 2005.
  • Summer 2004 The first Malmaison café, called TEA, opens at the Newcastle hotel.
  • June 2004 The five-star 301-bedroom Marriott West India Quay hotel opens.
  • March 2004 MWB buys the McCausland hotel in Belfast, and reopens it as the first Irish Malmaison in December. It includes two rock’n’roll suites designed by managing director Robert Cook.
  • January 2004 Robert Cook comes on board from Ken McCulloch’s Unique Hotel Coporation to head up Malmaison, where he had worked from 1997 to 2000.
  • November 2003 MWB’s Charterhouse Square property opens as London’s first Malmaison.
  • July 2003 MWB raises funds by issuing £15m new unsecured loan stock.
  • March 2003 MWB signs a 35-year management and turnover lease on a former prison in Oxford that is planned to open in 2005 as a Malmaison. It will be the first in which MWB does not own the freehold).
  • November 2002 MWB opens both the £45m Radisson Glasgow and the five-star 157-bedroom London Marriott Hotel Park Lane in London following a £95m renovation of the property.
  • September 2002 MWB buys out Rezidor’s stake in Malmaison for £6m and takes over its 18-year management contract for a further £7m.
  • October 2002 MWB opens the sixth Malmaison, in Birmingham.
  • May 2002 MWB raises £20m from the issue of 25 million new shares at 80p per share.
  • 2002 MWB reveals plans to open hotels on London’s Park Lane and Glasgow’s Argyle Street Glasgow on 20-year operating and management contracts. It will also refurbish its Howard hotel and West India Quay hotel and serviced apartment properties in London.
  • July 2001 MWB wins planning consent for a £300m mixed-use development on a 10-acre-site alongside London’s ExCel centre. French hotel Accor has signed up for the first £35m phase to build two hotels (a Novotel and its first UK SuiteHotel) with a combined 413 bedrooms that are schedule to open in spring 2003.
  • March 2001 MWB announces plans to convert its Charterhouse Square property in Smithfield, London, into the first London Malmaison.
  • October 2000 MWB buys the five-strong mid-market boutique hotel group Malmaison for £65m, acquiring properties in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. It buys the rights to the Malmaison name for £11m in a joint venture with hotel operator Rezidor SAS Hospitality, which secures a 20-year management contract for the brand.
  • July 2000 MWB acquires the Liberty retail store in London’s Great Marlborough Street.
  • March 2000 MWB buys a 95-year lease on the five-star Howard hotel in London from Ellerman Investments for £40m. It subsequently spends £15m refurbishing the property, which is managed by Swissôtel.

THE 1990s

  • 1998 MWB buys a former hospital in London’s Charterhouse Square to become the first of a four-star line of boutique hotels. In fact, it becomes the first London Malmaison at the end of 2003.
  • November 1997 MWB agrees to build a £56m Sofitel hotel on Crown Estate land in Pall Mall, London, for French hotel group Accor. The 186-bedroom hotel – originally planned to be completed by January 2000 – finally opens in April 2002 after several delays.
  • June 1997 MWB becomes a public company through a reverse takeover of the listed Ex-Lands Properties plc.
  • 1994 Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group is co-founded by Richard Balfour-Lynn, John Harrison and Joe Shashou
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