Private British firm snaps up UK's Hallmark Hotels

Topland, a UK-based privately held commercial real estate firm, is looking to up its ante in the hotel real estate game. In one fell swoop, it's grown by eight hotels and 730 rooms. The Financial Times reports that Topland has bought the Hallmark Hotels portfolio for £75 million, or roughly $128 million, in its latest step toward building a more than $1-billion hotel business.

Hallmark, a group of eight four-star hotels, was acquired in 2007 by private-equity group Bridgepoint, for £55 million. Bridgepoint sold the assets to Topland in an off-market transaction, FT reports, after upgrading several hotels from three stars to four.

Topland already owns 22 hotels across the UK, including The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, the Brighton Metropole, a portfolio of Hilton hotels, a portfolio of Thistle hotels, the Welcome Break in North London and The Menzies hotel group. The latter it bought out of administration in December last year. The acquisition included 12 hotels, predominantly four-star properties spread across the UK, from Aberdeen to Bournemouth.

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Topland's website states: Topland is looking to expand its hotel portfolio and will consider individual acquisitions and portfolios or corporate acquisitions across the UK and Europe. This appears to be its latest step in expanding in the UK.

Lionel Benjamin, Topland’s director of hotels, told FT that the deal reflected Britain’s economic recovery, which has begun to branch out from London into secondary and tertiary markets over the past year.

In April, HotStats reported strong UK numbers, stating that the UK hotel market posted a consecutive second month of strong growth across all key performance indicators, leading to the highest growth in gross operating profit per available room of 48.3 percent in February. A combined surge in occupancy of 5.7 percentage points and growth in average room rate (ARR) of 3.1 percent resulted in an increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) of an impressive 12.7 percent to £43.42.

In addition, the UK's hotel pipeline is strong, accounting for the most rooms under construction with 11,087 rooms in Europe, as of April, reports STR.

“The hotel sector is particularly attractive to our group because we believe we can drive income streams which traditionally have lagged behind other commercial property assets,” Benjamin said.

Topland’s total commercial property portfolio is worth about £4 billion, its website states.

Topland’s hotels are managed day-to-day by Bespoke Hotels, Britain’s largest independent hotel operator.