New regime at Savoy makes a good start

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The Independent Online
TGuests at the Savoy group of hotels paid 10 per cent more for their rooms in the first half of the year, sending profits soaring - even though refurbishment programmes at Claridge's, the Connaught and the Strand flagship itself kept occupancy levels flat.

With Ramon Pajares, new managing director, keeping the lid on costs, higher room-rates filtered through to a jump in pre-tax profits from pounds 575,000 to pounds 3.7m. Earnings per non-voting ordinary share of 9.1p compared with 1.3p in 1994 and 4.5p for the voting stock.

The improved interim figures marked the end of the first year of a new, more commercially-minded regime at the Savoy, following the appointment of Mr Pajares in September 1994 to the managing directorship of the group. This represented a victory for the Savoy's biggest shareholder, the Forte hotel group, which finally secured the resignation of his predecessor after a long siege.

Mr Pajares's appointment caused consternation among the old guard at the Savoy and many of the hotel's regular guests, who were suspicious of his background at the successful, but less illustrious, Four Seasons chain of hotels.

Analysts, however, said Mr Pajares's first year had been a good start but only a beginning. During his final year at the Inn on the Park hotel, he achieved a room yield - price paid multiplied by occupancy percentage - of pounds 170. At the Savoy, the equivalent figure during the half year was pounds 135.