Dalata Hotel Group, which owns the Maldron and Clayton hotels, has reported a 68% reduction in revenue leading to a loss after tax of €101m for the year to the end of December, which it described as an unprecedented year of challenge for the industry.

The hotel group said its revenue for the year sank by 68% to €136.8m from €429.2m in 2019, while its loss after tax came to €100.7m compared to profits of 78.2m in 2019 – a change of 228.7%.

It reported an occupancy rate of 30.9% for the year, down from a rate of 82.6% in 2019. Meanwhile its average room rate fell by 21.5% to €88.77 from €113.14 and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) sank to €27.45 from €93.43.

Dalata Hotel Group also said today its chief executive Pat McCann plans to step down from the role. Mr McCann has been CEO of the company since 2007.

Dalata said that Dermot Crowley, currently the company’s Deputy CEO, will become the company’s new CEO.

John Hennessy, Dalata’s Chairman, said that Pat McCann has been instrumental in growing Dalata, and its Clayton and Maldron brands, into a leading player in the hotel sector in Ireland and the UK.

“Having founded the business in 2007, he has successfully transformed Dalata, creating a listed business comprising 44 hotels, 9261 bedrooms and a pipeline of 13 new hotels with 3300 rooms,” he added.

Mr Hennessy also said that the Dalata Board is confident that Dermot Crowley is the right person to lead Dalata in the period ahead.

“He has a proven track record, having played a key role in the development of the business since 2012. Dermot started working with Pat over 20 years ago. He has a clear commitment to continue to grow the business and to maintain the wonderful culture that exists in Dalata today,” he added.

In its results statement today, Dalata said that despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, it continued to progress its growth strategy with three new agreements for lease secured in 2020.

In November, it also opened the new 44 bedroom extension at Clayton Hotel Birmingham and the new meeting and events centre at Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane in Dublin.

The group said it continues to progress its development pipeline of almost 3,300 rooms across Ireland and the UK.

Dalata’s pipeline of seven hotels already under construction includes two in Ireland and five in the UK. All of these properties are scheduled to open between the third quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022.

Eight development projects, including extensions, are currently at the pre-construction phase.

When all projects are completed, the group will have almost doubled its rooms in the UK, it added.

Looking ahead, Dalata said the the hospitality industry in Ireland and the UK continues to be impacted by restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Since the start of 2021, all of its hotels remain operational and are providing accommodation to front line workers, essential workers and those requiring quarantine but are closed to the general public.

It said that occupancy – as expected – has remained muted with a rate of 12% in January 12% and 15% in February.

Dalata Hotel Group said the outlook for the near term remains uncertain at present and it is not yet known when international travel will return to more normal levels.

“However, we remain ready and primed to get back to full operating levels once restrictions are lifted. The rollout of vaccines across Europe and globally is very encouraging, with the speed of rollout increasing as we move towards Q2,” it added.

Outgoing CEO Pat McCann said that 2020 was an extraordinary year, unlike any other he had encountered during his 50-year career in the hospitality industry.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for our industry, our people and our communities,” the CEO stated.

But he said the company had ended a very difficult year in a strong financial position with its core teams intact, morale running high and ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“Quite simply, we are unbowed and unbroken,” Pat McCann said.

“Our financial position remains robust. We have always managed the business with a strong understanding and awareness of the inevitable ups and downs facing our industry, including shocks, and yet position it for ongoing growth and opportunity,” he said.

“We therefore entered the crisis in a very strong financial position. Our strategy of maintaining an asset backed balance sheet and comfortable gearing ensured Dalata was well placed to confront the challenges which followed,” he added.

Dalata ‘fit and ready’ for economy reopening

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Pat McCann said it was his view that hotels would be allowed to reopen on a phased basis from May.

He said the group was getting bookings for the summer, but that people were proceeding in a very cautious fashion for the early part of the summer.

He said Dalata Hotels had essentially been closed to the public for much of the past year, although they had remained operational, accommodating specific groups.

“It’s frontline workers, it’s people cocooning. It’s a very different business model from what we had been operating in, but that means we’ve been able to keep 2,600 staff on,” he explained.

A sizeable minority of the group’s 4,000 plus workforce remain out of work at this point, but Pat McCann said Dalata was ‘fit and ready’ for when hotels were permitted to reopen.

While not commenting on plans for mandatory quarantine of travellers coming from high risk country, the outgoing CEO said the group had been engaged in providing quarantining facilities.

“We had 200 rooms in quarantine for HSE frontline workers, staff from shipping companies and airlines. We’ve been doing it for a range of businesses.”

On his retirement plans, Mr McCann said it would represent a break with the group.

“This will be a very long goodbye. The timing is left fluid, but I would hope to have finished up by the end of the year and end my connection with Dalata shortly after that,” he stated.