Granada sells Welcome Break for hefty pounds 476m

Granada made further progress on its disposal programme yesterday when it agreed to sell the Welcome Break motorway service stations to Investcorp, the Bahrain-based investment group, for a top-of-the-range price of pounds 476m.

The deal ends Granada's virtual monopoly of British motorway service station sites that has existed since last year's pounds 3.9bn takeover of the Forte hotels group.

Granada is also selling the Westbury hotels in London and New York to Chelsfield, the property group, for pounds 90m. Chelsfield plans to extend and refurbish the two hotels and incorporate them into the Wentworth Club, which owns the Surrey golf club. It is possible the Wentworth Club will then be floated on the stock market.

The price tag of the Welcome Break deal surprised the City, which had expected a pounds 400m-pounds 450m deal in spite of a raft of bidders thought to include Asda, Tesco, National Express and venture capital group CinVen. Richard Warner, a member of the Investcorp management committee, denied the group had paid too much: "It may appear a full price but we view the company as a strategic platform to develop other motorway service station businesses."

After the sale of Thorn Lighting Group, Investcorp has no UK businesses but said yesterday it was on the hunt for more UK deals. "We have ambitions to acquire companies in the UK, Europe and internationally," Mr Warner said.

Investcorp has owned several well-known businesses in Europe, including Gucci and Mondi, the German fashion company. It plans to invest pounds 50m in the 21 Welcome Break sites and seek further sites. A service station on the M40 near Oxford is planned and Investcorp estimates there is room for a further 15-20 service stations if planning permission can be obtained.

Michael Guthrie, the entrepreneur who sold his Pavilion motorway business to Granada in 1995, has been appointed chairman and acting chief executive of the Welcome Break chain. Welcome Break recorded operating profits of pounds 32m on turnover on pounds 335m last year.

Elliott Bernerd, Chelsfield's chairman, said his group's pounds 90m purchase of the two Westbury hotels would herald increased investment in the hotels' retailing interests. Chelsfield plans to increase the retail revenues of the London hotel, on the corner of Bond Street and Conduit Street, from pounds 200,000 to pounds 2m. Retail revenues at the Westbury on New York's Madison Avenue could increase from $800,000 to $4m, Mr Bernard said.

The two hotels produced pre-tax profits of pounds 5m on turnover of pounds 22.8m last year.

The Welcome Break and Westbury deals take Granada's total disposals since the Forte deal to pounds 1.2bn. Still to be sold are 11 more Exclusive hotels and the stake in the Savoy Group.

Charles Allen, Granada's chief executive, said: "Welcome Break and the Westbury hotels have been sold for excellent prices."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
tv
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

PA to CEO / Executive Secretary

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Executive PA to CEO & Executive Dire...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Management Accountant

£30-35k + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Management Accoun...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis