Thailand-based entrepreneurs are poised to take over a string of north and north-east hotels after their sale by west Highland businessman Paddy Crerar and other investors.
Oban-born Mr Crerar is chief executive of Edinburgh-based Crerar Hotel Group (CHG), which has struck a deal to dispose of of its entire portfolio, including 12 hotels in Scotland and another in Yorkshire, to FICO Castle – a UK subsidiary of Bangkok-headquartered FICO Corporation.
Most of the hotels are in the north and north-east. These include the Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer, Craiglynne Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey, Deeside Inn at Ballater, Eight Acres Hotel and Leisure Club in Elgin, Glencoe Inn & Gathering in Glencoe, Golf View Hotel & Spa in Nairn, Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa in Craignure, Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa in Inveraray, Oban Bay Hotel & Spa and Thainstone House, near Inverurie.
The other three hotels in the group are the GoGlasgow Urban Hotel in Glasgow, Scotlands Hotel in Pitlochry and, south of the border, Chevin Country Park Hotel and Spa in Otley.
In addition to the hotel assets, the brand name Crerar Hotels and short break company www.easy-breaks.com are being sold to the same buyer.
CHG said it was retaining Crerar Management, which specialises in the recovery of underperforming hotel assets and is currently focused on consultancy.
FICO Holdings (UK), a joint-venture owner of Jupiter Hotels, has been appointed to manage the Crerar hotels after the “anticipated sale (subject to contract completion)” goes through. The deal value was not disclosed.
CHG has been in discussions with FICO corporation chief executive Krit Srichawla and managing director Sanjay Singh for more than a year.
Mr Crerar, who is on the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and also owns and operates two agricultural businesses, could not be contacted yesterday.
A CHG spokesman said: “We have found a very able and highly motivated new owner to take on and develop what we have started.
“We feel very certain that the new owners input and fresh global perspective will bring out the best in our soon-to-be former hotels and associated business interests.
“In particular, we were impressed about the focus, care and attention they demonstrated when discussing how the people in the organisation will continue to be given every opportunity to flourish.”
“The proposed takeover date is late August and we see no barriers to that being achieved.
“All hotel and www.easy-breaks.com personnel are transferring to the new owners and discussions are under way regarding employees at Crerar Group offices which are also being sold to FICO Castle Ltd to form a new Scottish base”.
CHG, which is majority owned by Crerar Hotels Trust, with Mr Crerar as its chairman, reported pre-tax profits of £888,570 for the 12 months to March 26 last year. This was after losses of £5.4million in 2014/15, when the balance sheet was hit by property valutions to reflect the impact of new employment legislation.
Turnover rose to £25.3million in the latest period, from £22.6million previously.
CHC said its results were boosted by successful trading at Thainstone House despite the local economy suffering a severe downturn.
FICO Group, founded as a textile trading business in 1947, encompasses more than 50 companies.