The son-in-law of an Indian IT billionaire is the surprise new owner of Gleneagles Hotel.
Drinks giant Diageo confirmed it agreed to sell the “iconic” Scottish hotel, which hosted the G8 summit and the Ryder Cup, to Sharan Pasricha, founder and chief executive of Ennismore.
The sum paid for the Perthshire golf resort was undisclosed but it is thought Diageo was considering bids over £150million when Ennismore beat out rivals, reported to be KSL Capital Partners, owner of The Belfry, and Ralph Trustees, owner of London’s Athenaeum hotel and The Grove in Hertfordshire.
The 34-year-old Mr Pasricha is married to the daughter of Sunil Mittal, chairman of multi-national telecoms firm Bharti Airtel.
A relative newcomer to the hospitality trade, Mr Pasricha’s London-based investment vehicle Ennismore bought the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch from Pret-a-Manger founder Sinclair Beecham in 2012.
Gleneagles Hotel was opened in 1924 and had been owned by Diageo since 1984.
In the year to June 30 last year, the business generated revenues of £43.5million and an operating profit of £2.6million.
Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said: “Diageo is proud to have been the owner of Gleneagles but the hotel is not a core business for us and therefore following the success of the Ryder Cup we feel this is an appropriate time to realise value through this transaction.”
The acquisition follows several months of talks.
Mr Pasricha said: “We are delighted to be acquiring the iconic Gleneagles Hotel, which is one of the world’s most prestigious and recognisable venues.
“We plan to operate Gleneagles as a standalone business – alongside The Hoxton – to ensure that its management team can preserve the special appeal of this Scottish landmark.”
Ennismore, which described its move as a “major expansion”, said it will retain the existing Gleneagles management and workforce.
Perthshire South & Kinross-shire MSP Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the assurances for staff.
She said: “First and foremost, I am pleased to have learned that assurances have already been given to staff that there will be no redundancies and no changes to their terms and conditions.
“The existing management are to be kept on and investment will be maintained, with Ennismore determined to build on the legacy of Diageo’s development of the Gleneagles brand.”
She added: “The new buyers do appear to be a good match for the business, specialising in the hotel and restaurant sector, and with an eye to developing unique hospitality properties.
“Gleneagles is certainly that and, indeed, just in the past few days it was brilliant to see Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant at Gleneagles named once again as the best restaurant in Scotland at the National Restaurant Awards.”
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead, welcomed a pledge from Pasricha to invest in the resort. He said: “Tourism is a vital part of the Scottish economy, creating jobs and sustaining communities. We are particularly pleased that Ennismore has recognised, and clearly values, the important role this resort plays both locally and nationally by making an early pledge to invest ‘significant sums across this estate’ to build on Gleneagles’ reputation.”
SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who represents Ochil and South Perthshire, said: “The current reputation and success of Gleneagles has been built on the hospitality and excellent service shown by staff at the resort, and so I’m sure that all the team there will be reassured to know that they will continue to be a cornerstone of Ennismore’s plans for the future.”
The resort hosted the G8 summit of world leaders in 2005, the year the Make Poverty History campaign was a key focus.
In 2014, Gleneagles played host to Europe and America’s finest golfers at the Ryder Cup, which attracted more than 250,000 visitors and a global TV audience.