Scottish firm Portland Hotels, whose five sites include the Speedbird Inn at Aberdeen International Airport, aims to expand south of the border for the first time.
Colin Paton, the company’s chairman, chief executive and founder, told the Press and Journal he was eyeing potential acquisition opportunities in English and Welsh cities including Manchester, Bristol, Oxford and Cardiff.
The growth strategy was all about “spreading geographical risk”, he said.
He insisted it had nothing to do with the looming Scottish independence referendum.
“It is something we have been trying to do for a number of years,” he said, adding that banks were not keen to finance the expansion after the financial crisis.
Mr Paton said the group was looking to acquire up to five new sites a year.
As well as the Speedbird, which it took over in 2011, Portland runs the Huntingtower Hotel in Perth, Edinburgh City Hotel, Edinburgh Capital Hotel and Glasgow Pond Hotel.
Several new hotels have sprung up near the Speedbird and there are others in the pipeline but Mr Paton said he was “unfazed” by the competition.
He added: “During the year to January 2014, two hotels opened adjacent to Speedbird – adding 300 bedrooms in the local Dyce market, with a further 400 scheduled for completion in 2017.
“The market for hotel accommodation (in Aberdeen) is strong.
“Speedbird Inn remains the closest hotel property to the airport terminal and has benefited from substantial reinvestment over the period of our ownership.”
Mr Paton said the 200-bedroom Dyce hotel, Portland’s biggest, achieved the highest room yield – a key measure of performance for the industry – for the Edinburgh-based group during the year to January 26.
The Speedbird’s strong performance continued to be driven by a buoyant oil and gas industry, he added,
Across the group, Portland reported a slight rise in occupancy to nearly 80% and average room yield of £52.68, up more than 5.5% on the year before and well in excess of the regional UK hotel sector as a whole.
Annual results from the company showed a 4.5% rise in turnover to £15.52million, while pre-tax profits were up by 20% at £2.6million.
Mr Paton said; “In a market that looks only now to be improving, the trading performance of the group continues to be exceptional.
“In many of our properties we have been able to outperform inflation – a difficult task in the hotel sector.
“With a market in better shape than it has been for many years and favourable banking facilities, we are well-placed and actively seeking to expand our portfolio.
“In the interests of balancing risk, the group seeks sensible, multiple acquisitions throughout the UK.”
He added: “We are looking forward to a brisk summer as Scotland gears up for a particularly busy tourist season, including the Commonwealth Games, Homecoming and the Ryder Cup.
“Our hotels are in demand, in good condition and in higher performing markets.”
Portland is owned by the Ayrshire-based Paton and Brown families.
It owns four of its five portfolio hotels, with the Speedbird being the exception on a long-term lease.