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Jurys Doyle: the Irish saga

Built out of the long history of two families, the group Jurys Doyle has an eventful history with a variety of strategic changes over time. Nonetheless, it continues to be the standard bearer of luxury hotels in Ireland. The sale of the mid-scale division gave the group the means to invest abroad and launch new modern and innovative concepts.

The odyssey of Jurys Hotel began in 1839 when William Jury, a travelling salesman, opened the “Commercial Lodgings” in Dublin. Over time and through civil conflict on up to the War of Independence, the group progressively climbed to its status as the Irish brand with the greatest international renown thanks to acquisitions and openings of prestigious properties.Today, at the head of 12 properties boasting 4 and 5 stars for 2,500 rooms (all located in town centers with a balanced clientele between Business and Leisure, that is resolutely international), the actual president, Bernadette C. Gallagher, wants to use the available means to pick up speed. She would like to turn the accumulated “war chest” of some 2 billion euros to profit to buy other hotels on the East Coast of the United States and in several important European cities and launch a vast renovation program in its existing hotels. With a strong ethical policy reinforcing its image, the group committed itself very early –at the concept’s onset– to sustainable development. Since 1996, an energy saving program was implemented thanks to a heat retaining system. Two years ago, Jurys Doyle went even further to commit to reducing energy consumption by 10% across the group. The same type of initiative was launched in 1998 regarding waste recycling and a study has been implemented on the potential use of rainwater in building operations.The spectacular growth of tourism in Ireland in the 70s gave a veritable boost to this rise. The group made a large step forward with the 1999 takeover for 166 million euros of the Doyle Hotel Group, which led to the creation of a new entity with thirty or so properties. Its recent history is fairly tumultuous and bears witness to changes experienced by the industry thanks to the intervention of real estate promo ters. The years since 2000 have seen a carefully orchestrated ballet of buyouts and sales of walls, with the Doyle family’s rise in strength in the background. This phenomenon reached its culmination in the middle of the decade. In 2005, the group separated from one of its most prestigious properties, the Ballsbridge in Dublin, for some 200 million euros. The developer Sean Dunne was its buyer. Shortly thereafter, to avoid seeing the heritage leave the group, a consortium of Doyle family members backed by a few of the group’s directors made a global offer of 1.25 billion euros through JHD Acquisitions. Goal: reprivatize the company, which had been listed on the stock exchange until then. Events accelerated. In November of the same year, Jurys Doyle sold two new hotels, also in Dublin, that were immediately bought by Sean Doyle. This marked the beginning of a veritable regain of control that became official a month later with the success of its takeover bid, the Doyle clan now holds nearly 99% of the group’s shares.After which, the directors decided to concentrate on developing the mid-scale brand Jurys Inn, launched in 1993. While it represented only one third of sales, it produced more than 40% of the profits. A final resurgence occurred at the beginning of last summer, with the takeover of this division and its 20 units (4,835 rooms) by a powerful consortium of investors, Quinlan Private, to the tune of 1.165 billion euros. Consequently, the brand now operates under the name Jurys Inn Group Limited, an entity that is distinct from Jurys Doyle Hotel Group Limited. The management now plans to develop the brand on the European continent and in Eastern Europe in particular.Jurys Doyle may now focus entirely on the upscale. The last few years saw three new 4 stars open their doors: a Boston property in 2004 marked a second incursion onto American soil after its establishment in Washington, the Croke Park in London in 2005 and a hotel in Cork, Ireland, in October 2006. The inauguration of Jurys Cork Hotel was the most emblematic for the group. Sixteen months of renovations for 38 million euros turned this historic property (it had been operating for 40 years in Ireland’s second largest city) into one of the brand’s jewels, alongside the celebrated Burlington and Westbury hotels in Dublin.Despite these developments, the park was thus considerably reduced by the wave of sales and the cession of Jurys Inn. The group is no longer present in the United Kingdom’s key cities such as Heathrow, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester. But its prestige remains intact. As do the group’s great warhorses, starting with the hosting of conferences, one of the pillars of its international reach, with 50 to 1,200 seat meeting rooms complete with state of the art audiovisual and multimedia equipment. In this regard Jurys Doyle is among the first hotel groups to have equipped its entire inventory with free highspeed connections in rooms, as well as free-access wi-fi terminals throughout its hotels.Today, at the head of 12 properties boasting 4 and 5 stars for 2,500 rooms (all located in town centers with a balanced clientele between Business and Leisure, that is resolutely international), the actual president, Bernadette C. Gallagher, wants to use the available means to pick up speed. She would like to turn the accumulated “war chest” of some 2 billion euros to profit to buy other hotels on the East Coast of the United States and in several important European cities and launch a vast renovation program in its existing hotels. With a strong ethical policy reinforcing its image, the group committed itself very early –at the concept’s onset– to sustainable development. Since 1996, an energy saving program was implemented thanks to a heat retaining system. Two years ago, Jurys Doyle went even further to commit to reducing energy consumption by 10% across the group. The same type of initiative was launched in 1998 regarding waste recycling and a study has been implemented on the potential use of rainwater in building operations.

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