Business

Liverpool based hotel group to push turnover past £20m with Belfast developments

Lawrence Kenwright from Signature Living plans to create a luxury boutique hotel at the Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast city centre. The company posted pre-tax profits of over £8 million last year. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

THE group behind two new major hotel projects in Belfast has said its investment in the north could help push turnover past the £20 million mark over the next 12 months.

Earlier this year Liverpool-based developers the Signature Living Group purchased the iconic Crumlin Road Courthouse and the Scottish Mutual Building in the city centre, announcing ambitious plans to add as many as five hotels to Belfast over the coming years.

The property developer group, founded by Lawrence and Katie Kenwright in 2008, already owns four hotels in Liverpool, including the Titanic-themed 30 James Street and The Shankly and is expanding in the Cardiff and Preston markets.

The hotel group has undergone a rapid expansion in recent years and yesterday announced record pre-tax profits of £5.6 million announced for the year ending April 1 2016, more than three times the 2015 figure (£1.6 million).

Turnover has also more than doubled from £3.6 million to £8.3 million, with chairman Lawrence Kenwright expecting this to rise to over £20 million this year, due to major investments in the new UK hotel projects.

“Signature Living has experienced remarkable growth, and our investors, stakeholders and hard-working employees are delighted with the results," he said.

“Over the next 12 months, our focus is firmly on the expansion of our hotel portfolio. We will seek every opportunity to increase profitable turnover even further than our projected £20m.”

In February Mr Kenwright announced ambitious plans to create five new hotels in Belfast over the next few years, including a George Best themed development and the following month purchased the Crumlin Road Courthouse.

The Signature Living Group plans to transform the derelict building into a £25 million luxury hotel.

The courthouse, the scene of some of the north's most horrific cases, including the Shankill Butchers' trial, has been closed since 1998 and since then has suffered major damage, including a massive arson attack in 2009.

In April the English hotel group confirmed the acquisition of the Scottish Mutual Building on Bedford Street from the Ballymena-based Hill family and pledged £15 million to restore the Grade B1 listed building and create a luxury boutique hotel.

The Hill family, best known for their ownership of the Galgorm Resort & Spa, bought the building from the Republic's bad bank Nama in 2013 for £2 million and acquired planning permission for a 40-bedroom hotel.

To date work has not started on either of the Belfast hotel projects.

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