Son leads family MBO of Scottish Hotel group

Chris Rickard has led a management buy-out (MBO) of a Scottish Hotel group to continue growing the company almost thirty years after it was started by his father.

Chris bought out his mother’s shares in the Strathmore hotel group which was founded in 1991 by his father, Ronnie Rickard, who unfortunately died in 2012.

Chris Rickard, who is the majority shareholder of the company, joined the company in 2001 and has been managing director of the group (which has five hotels in Scotland and two in England) since 2012. He had worked closely with his dad for many years to grow the business and it was always intended that the company remain in family hands. His sister, Louise Hamill who is a minority shareholder, is the sales and marketing director of the group and has also been closely involved in growing the business with her dad for many years.

The group, which is headquartered in East Kilbride, began with the purchase of the Salutation Hotel in Perth for £1m in 1991, now stretches from the Nethybridge Hotel in the North to the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate, with a portfolio of assets worth over £30m. Turnover rose 7.0% over the last year from £15.6m to £16.7m and the hotels occupancy rate increased from 62% to 64% over the same period.

Chris Rickard, Managing Director of the Strathmore Group, explained: “Obviously the Strathmore Group means a lot to me personally and professionally. I wanted to keep the group in family ownership and continue the great work that my dad did in establishing and building up the business. I think that I have been building on his legacy since 2012 and now, following the MBO, put my own stamp on the business. I had great help from Iain Walker of French Duncan LLP, and I am grateful for the support of Handelsbanken, and Brodies and MacRoberts for the fantastic work they did on the MBO.”

Chris continued: “Hospitality is a highly competitive business and requires continued investment and new ideas to ensure a business grows. I am very proud of this being an independent and family-run group of hotels which allows us to offer a unique, personalised service to our clients. I am excited by the challenges ahead and want to lead Strathmore Hotels into a bright future and will be seeking to expand our portfolio and grow the group.”

Iain Walker, Director, Corporate Advisory at French Duncan LLP, who advised on the deal, commented: “The hospitality sector is performing very strongly, and Scotland as a destination is increasingly appealing both to tourists and the staycation market. The quality of the leadership coupled with the value of the portfolio and the strong performance of the business made this a pretty simple decision for funders to back. Given the current market and management’s hotel heritage, the business is well positioned for growth.”

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